At Last, 100% Board Giving!

Does 100% of your organization’s board contribute financially?

They should.

In my 2012 Small Shop Fundraising Survey, an astonishing 55% of organizations are reporting that they do not have 100% board giving.

How can you reasonably expect others to contribute financially to your organization if members of your board do not?

Yes, I know.  You’ve got members who contribute in-kind services, or volunteer, or bring in new donors.  You just don’t feel right about asking them to contribute financially as well.

Guess what?  More and more grantmaking foundations are making it part of their criteria to only fund organizations with 100% board giving.  In my grant proposal writing consultancy, I’ve even seen the far end of the spectrum where a funder requested a notarized statement attesting to attendance at board meetings.

And, while I don’t recommend set giving amounts, every member of your board should be contributing financially at a level that is generous for them.

My friend, Debra Baker Beck from the Laramie Board Learning Project says: “My counsel to nonprofit boards, when it comes to a policy on member giving, is to do what is best for your organization. That right choice may very well be not requiring contributions from board members. However,  that approach could ultimately have very real financial consequences, as more foundations and more major donors ask and expect to hear that you have 100 percent participation from your board members. This very tangible demonstration of commitment is increasingly important to those we ask to support us via grants and personal gifts.”

What’s that you say?  You don’t currently have a policy on board giving?  There’s no time like now to start.

From my own perspective, I’ve found it much easier to approach board members one-on-one by way of an initial direct mail appeal.  You can download a sample template letter here.  Still awaiting a response from one or three board members?  Try using this follow-up appeal.   Still holding out?  A gentle followup phone call from your board chair will do the trick.

The squeaky wheel gets the grease.

For even more helpful forms, templates and checklists, check out Simple Development Systems: Successful fundraising for the one-person shop.  Called “the Bible” for the overwhelmed executive director or development director, SDS will set your organization on the path to sustainable funding!

10 Responses to “At Last, 100% Board Giving!”

  1. […] Because I have been out of the office AND because I couldn’t say it better, I am sharing this link to Pamela Grow’s blog post on why (and how) your board members should always be financial […]

  2. I’m always amazed when I hear from a nonprofit that a Board member seems to be using the position strictly as a way to pad the ol’ resume and aren’t contributing anything (sometimes both money or time) to the group. I know these tools will be useful to groups, Pamela.

  3. Mazarine says:

    MARVELOUS! Thanks for these templates Pam!

    One thing that always helps us is to say not, “Give $5,000 a year” but “Give what is for you a significant gift” and that will help ease the strain on some board members who may not be as wealthy as others.



  4. Sherri says:

    Thanks for the templates! Can you share a few names of grantmaking foundations (expecially Canadian ones) that require 100% board giving.

  5. It’s a powerful message to have 100% board giving when inviting gifts from others. AND it can start with the staff and work through the board. 100% staff AND board giving…now that is an engaged organization.

  6. Thanks Pam for these tips. One approach that I’ve seen work really well is treating our board members as major donors – meeting with them and personally making an ask at an appropriate level for that person. It can be difficult to make it personal with a group appeal at a meeting or with a letter. But with time constraints as they are in most nonprofit organizations these days, I can understand needing to send a letter instead. And wow – 55% not having 100% board giving – ouch!

  7. Pamela Grow says:

    I agree, Kirsten, with your point about meeting personally with board members. I believe that we’ll always do better with a one-on-one approach, rather than issuing the call at a board meeting. I’ve actually always included a combination: sending out the letter and then following up with a phone call and/or meeting. Thanks so much for commenting.

  8. Sandy Rees says:

    I completely agree that more Boards need 100% giving before they go to the community to ask for support. It’s silly for the leaders of an organization to think that others will give generously if they aren’t willing to do it.

    Sandy Rees

  9. Can you tell me more about your survey, please. Who did it go to? How many responses? Etc.

  10. Pamela Grow says:

    Hi Kelly:

    The survey went out to approximately 4,000 subscribers at the time and we received close to 300 responses.