As a consultant to compact and mid-sized nonprofits, I have often been asked to join boards of directors. (Of course, I would by no means agree to serve on a board of an organization exactly where I am a paid consultant.) When possibilities do seem, I will meet with suitable board and employees of a nonprofit to talk about them. A single of the very first concerns I ask is “How substantially revenue do you anticipate your board members to donate every single year?”
Sometimes, board presidents will respond straight by naming a certain minimum quantity board members are anticipated to give. Occasionally they will make a comment like “We anticipate our board to donate according to their indicates.” Most usually, I hear “Oh, we do not definitely speak about that but we are clear about how we anticipate all members to commit substantial time and talent.”
Time and talent are significant. On the other hand, considering the fact that a big duty of all board members is raise revenue, providing revenue is critically significant. A single of the fundamental principles of fundraising is very first give and then ask other people to give. It is not realistic to anticipate anybody, no matter whether a pal, a household member, a company or a foundation, to give revenue to an organization that you as a board member do not assistance financially very first.
Getting worked most of my life with smaller sized neighborhood-primarily based and faith-primarily based nonprofits, I recognize that the providing capability of their board members is far significantly less than a board member at Harvard University or the Boston Symphony Orchestra. I also know that these smaller sized boards have members of tremendously varying indicates. A $25 present from 1 member is a bigger stretch than a $1,000 present from yet another. How then can the board establish its providing policy to include things like every person and embarrass no 1 (and make it much easier for prospective board members to determine if they want to join)?
The ideal answer I have heard to this query comes from Andy Robinson. He is a trainer, author and consultant who has been raising revenue for social modify considering the fact that 1980. We had been at a resource improvement conference collectively in Denver when this query of board providing arose. Let me paraphrase his response: all board members need to make their economic present to a nonprofit on whose board they serve be the second or third highest donation they give to charity. Why did not he say the highest? When asked this, he replied that most men and women give their highest gifts to their religious affiliation and he does not recommend interfering with this.
Generating a board providing policy primarily based on Andy's thought will not only enable you attract new members, it will clarify for your current members what providing expectations are. It is also an equitable policy which does not differentiate in between these of indicates and these whose finances are significantly less. Such a board values the $25 present as substantially as the $1,000 simply because these gifts are substantial to the giver.
I like this popular sense method to board providing. It offers members with a clear expectation, tends to make it much easier to attain the aim of 100% board providing, and is valuable when recruiting new members. If prospective members are prepared to give time and talent to an organization but not donate revenue, propose this thought. Recommend they not join the board of directors now but use their time and talent by serving on a committee. If the committee operate is productive and the volunteers delight in the men and women, you might discover them prepared to donate revenue as they get a lot more involved.