Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Should your organization require board members to give at least $x annually?

No. I don't agree that nonprofits should require their board members to give at least $x each year.

Let me clarify though, I do completely agree with The Nonprofit Consultant Blog's recent post, "How Much Should Board Members Give?" that discusses whether nonprofits should require that their board members give. If you are on the board of a nonprofit organization, you should not only be giving an annual gift, but that nonprofit should be one of the top three nonprofits you give to. Plus, you should be helping to friend-raise and fundraise as part of being on the board and having a fiduciary responsibility.

But, I do not agree with organizations that say that you as a board member are required to give $1,000 (or whatever amount organizations say). That is for two main reasons:

1. If you require individuals to give $1,000, those that can't afford just won't give and those that can afford it may just give that (when they might have gave $2,000 or $10,000), so either way you are missing out.

2. You are actively reducing the amount of diversity you will have on your board. There are many people (students, low-income, young, etc) that would never be able to afford that, so you are erasing any opportunity to hear their opinions and have them on your board. This is why I am a fan of the you must give and we must be one of your top three nonprofits you give to language.


Carina said...

I used to work for a Community Action agency where our board was mandated to include low-income representation. While it was challenging to have a board that was not focused on fundraising, I learned that board members offer many types of value to an organization beyond money--influence, perspective, first-hand knowledge. These things help an organization tell its story, and give new places to tell it.

Christine said...

This is a sticky issue! In my experience, board members want to hear a dollar figure of some sort, so they know what is expectated of them. Our compromise has been to say what the AVERAGE gift would be, while stressing that 1) their gift amount should be personally significant to them, and 2) that some will give below average, so if you have the means, aim high to help reach the goal.

Amy Boroff said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Amy Boroff said...

I do agree that board members should not be required to give a designated amount, but when validating your organization it speaks volumes to have 100% board and staff giving. Many grantees ask this and after grasping the understanding that our board members are our organization and their commitment cannot be doubted. Having said that, any amount is acceptable but I do believe it validates the organization and those guiding it!

Nonprofit SOS said...

Carina- I agree. That is why I think it is important to include youth on boards as well, they may not be able to afford a $1,000 gift, but they probably have 100+ friends on facebook, myspace, etc that could volunteer, give, etc.

Christine- I agree that giving an amount can be helpful, but that should be something that you could tell a board member individually, instead of saying in front of everyone (some of which can't afford gifts of $X amount), because that only ends up making some feel bad. I like to say, "We receive gifts as small as $5 and as large as $185,000. We ask that you give an amount annual that is personally significant, and puts us in the top three charities that you support."

Amy- Completely agree - it makes calls A LOT easier when a board member has given and is asking for money. They can say "I give to X and this is why", it seems more real.

Armando said...

The organization I work for some times matches (from their pockets) dollar for dollar on what members donate at a given time or event. I find that encouraging and in a way it sets an example.

Nonprofit SOS said...

Just a note, I don't normally delete comments, but Amy Boroff's comment showed up twice, so I deleted one of them.