Give. Get. Or Get Off.

I’m a strong believer that each nonprofit organization should have a specific dollar amount annual contribution for Board members. Some will argue this with me; however, I have seen many organizations struggle with collecting donations from their Board members. Even with Board members who can actually afford the dues. Have you experienced this with your Board?

Investment leads to involvement – or in the case of a Board member will hopefully ensure involvement. One Board member, a retired car dealer, put it this way: you have to put a deposit down on the car before you drive it off the lot. The Board donation is a down payment from each Board member on their commitment of Board service.

I recommend having each Board member fill out and sign the Board Commitment Form (see attached). This worksheet provides Board members options for giving their donation (annually, quarterly or monthly) or getting their donation by bringing friends and colleagues to fundraising events. Board members who “get” their donation should be encouraged to give a significant portion of the total amount.

How do you engage your current Board members to give a required Board donation?

The first step is to inform Board members of how important Board donations are to the organization. These funds support general operations – one of the hardest areas to fundraise in a nonprofit. The Board sets the example for giving in the organization. If the Board gives, others will follow. Also, private Foundations will not make grants to organizations that do not have 100% board giving.

The second step is to have the Board brainstorm a group fundraising goal for the year or a minimum contribution amount per Board member. A good rule of thumb is: If 100% of the Board is giving, 20% of the total monies raised from individuals should come from the Board. Board giving needs to set the tone for other individuals to give. Often the Board member individual contribution amount should be a “stretch” gift or a significant amount. The Board goal can be collective (Board members giving different amounts to make up one goal) or each Board member can be required to give the same amount. To put it in perspective, the priciest Board dues in San Diego are at the Opera where each Board member is required to contribute $25,000 each year.

How have you been successful in engaging your Board in giving?

Board of Directors Financial Commitment Sheet

1 thought on “Give. Get. Or Get Off.”

  1. Another way that we look at this is, to be in a postion to ask others to support the “cause”, you need to show YOU are supporting the cause. It is the “kiss of death” to get hit with the “so what did you give” question when out on an ask with a board member. I have seen this question pop up even when the board member was just there for “moral support”. It is also a stamp of approval to be able to say that 100% of your board is supporting the cause… one wants to explain what happened to the missing percentage!

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