Achieving 100% board giving can be a challenge for some nonprofits.
The entire topic of board giving is sometimes awkward for board members and staff alike.
Why do board members need to give generously?
It’s obvious, isn’t it?
Some board leaders avoid the topic because it feels embarrassing. They don’t want to feel like they’re pressuring fellow board members.
In situations when board members are not all giving, usually there is discomfort with the overall idea of fundraising.
Somewhere, either now or in the past, leaders of the organization side-stepped their responsibilities to support fund development.
But on other boards, especially for larger organizations, board giving is a given. It’s seen as a simple cost of belonging on the board.
The subject of personal giving by board members is a straightforward expectation.
It’s approached in a matter-of-fact way, as it should.
It’s all a matter of board policy.
Every board sets its own policies in the area of giving.
Awkward or not, board giving must be discussed. Not swept under the rug.
Here are 5 reasons why 100% of board members should give:
1. 100% board giving adds integrity to the fundraising process.
How else can your team go out into the community with any integrity to ask for support?
How can your nonprofit ask others for support if its own leadership is not financially supportive?
It just doesn’t work. It’s being two-faced.
100% board giving is simply essential for any fundraising credibility.
2. Board members are taking a firm stand behind their organization.
When board members give at 100% they are making a proud statement to the community. They are saying:
- “We stand behind this organization—every single one of us.
- “We believe in the mission—and we proudly support it financially.
- “We are leading the charge in our community, owning and spearheading the work of this wonderful nonprofit.
As the leaders of the organization in your community, they are putting their money where their mouth is.
3. Board members lead by example.
The behavior of your board members sets an example to the rest of the community.
To your nonprofit’s donors, to its volunteers and staff, and to the entire world.
Who should give generously, if the very leaders of the organization are not?
4. Many funders insist on 100% board giving.
They want to see the entire board stepping up proudly to support their organization.
And if the full board is not financially supportive, then the funder will back off.
It indicates weak leadership to the funder.
5. Board members are legal custodians of your nonprofit’s mission.
Board members who dodge their personal giving responsibility are ignoring their role as legal guardians of the organization.
The board members themselves are the highest legal authority for the organization.
In a sense, they “own” the organization. From the legal perspective, they are the official custodians of the mission.
They are responsible for its success. No one else. Just the board or the people they hire to carry out the mission.
Being a nonprofit board member is a high honor—and a high responsibility.
Board members’ annual “Proud Personal Gift”
The general rule of thumb is that each board member makes a personal gift that they are proud of, each year.
I love that concept—a “proud, personal gift” is something that you take pride in.
And it’s something that’s easy for board members to rally behind, too.
Here’s a seamless way to be sure that all board members make their gift: 7 Rules for Successfully Soliciting Your Board.
Begging off: “We give our time, not our money?”
Please. This is small-time thinking, for small-time causes.
When people start saying this kind of thing, it is disappointing, and it is totally off-base.
What’s the result when board members try to beg off their giving responsibility?
How can they expect staffers to work so hard to bring in gifts?
How can they with any integrity hold staffers accountable for fundraising goals, when they themselves refuse to participate?
Make no mistake, the buck starts and stops with the board.
Bottom Line: 100% board giving is essential.
What are your own experiences with board giving and/or getting?
The preceding is a cross-post by Gail Perry from the Fired-Up Fundraising blog. Gail Perry is an international fundraising consultant, coach, speaker, blogger, and thought leader. Her Fired-Up Fundraising approach, developed over the past 25 years as a nonprofit philanthropy expert, has helped organizations raise hundreds of millions in gifts and support. Her book, Fired-Up Fundraising: Turn Board Passion into Action, has been called the "gold standard guide" to building successful fundraising boards.