Some thoughts on governing board member charitable giving expectations:
A strict adherence to a board member annual minimum dollar “give/get” may lead to a screening out some of the most promising governing board candidates.
Many board chairs and CEOs identify fundraising as the weakest aspect of board performance, and research suggests that a major factor is that fundraising expectations are poorly communicated during the nomination process. Traditionally, many board chairs and CEOs respond to this challenge by emphasizing the board’s role in fundraising, such as setting a strict “give or get” requirement, and then devote significant board meeting time to fundraising.
In some fields, and at certain stages of an organization’s development, fundraising may be the single most important role of the board, in which case strict fundraising requirements may be desired. And of course, all board members should be willing to facilitate donor introductions, act as advocates for major gifts, and participate in foundation site visits.
However, strict fundraising give/get minimums can lead to unintended consequences. For example, they would certainly preclude perhaps the most valuable strategists and leaders: nonprofit executive directors in adjacent fields or at larger organizations who need to fundraise for their own organizations.
That’s why we suggest an alternative philosophy to board giving: Understand each board members’ talents, compare against the organization’s greatest need and opportunity areas, and then set a roadmap for how best to deploy each board member’s capacity for creating greater value to your mission. Some of this value may lie in areas traditionally neglected by boards, such as hiring and developing senior staff leaders, building bridges to community groups, and providing advice and connections for government relations, policy, and finance.
Other approaches include implementing an “Orientation Year” giving level. During the first year of service, a new board member would become familiar with the programs and target population needs. The expected gift would be at 50% of the give/get minimum.
Many nonprofit organizations are simply asking all board members to make an annual gift at a level that aligns with their family budget.
An even simpler scale is that all board members commit to placing the nonprofit among their highest three yearly charitable gifts.
Whatever method is adopted, it is important not to assume that Latinos can’t afford to make a gift; they have rarely been asked. A discreet and sensitive discussion with new board members can lead to consistent and generous support—monetary and otherwise.
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