You are out with a potential major donor, and they ask, “has every member of the board given to the organization?” Sound familiar?
Ongoing fundraising is an undercurrent in most nonprofit organizations, even those with lots of money. There are always more costs, emergencies, and expenses; we need more cash. Among the sources of that income are the donations from the board members, that is, when they do make that expected gift.
Despite the clear expectation of board dues or annual gifts, many board members really drag their feet when it comes to pulling out the checkbook. Reluctance to give can come from many causes and has a big impact on your operation. When donors ask if you have 100% board support, it sends a message of uncertainty if you have to say no.
Talking About Money
The more the conversation is avoided, the harder it will be to have. Be matter of fact and place the discussion of board support early on the agenda. Say it: ‘we need to address the policy and procedures for board support, and make sure they are in place’. Board dues are much more than a financial gift, they are a signal and symbol for others to see.
Be matter of fact, no cringing, sorry or drama. Don’t apologize for the fact that it requires money to make the changes your organization wants to make, these are the funds that allow your organization to be the agent of change.
Do As I Say, Not As I Do
This is the chance for your board to set the example; it is hard to ask others to give if your board can not show their commitment. Asking for funding when they have not donated opens questions that might prove to be very uncomfortable. Why would someone become a board member if they did not plan to offer financial support? Do they know something we don’t?
Sometimes a more public gesture of a gift, at an event or during a board meeting may encourage others to join in. Set aside a specific time during your board meeting for the board to examine the existing policy or craft a new, inclusive board giving policy. Authorship of a policy can energize and inspire giving.
5 Tips on Creating Board Dues Policy
- Keep it short and simple; Google it, find samples and examples from other organizations.
- Create a direct list of expectations for board support each year; include options for in kind gifts or other ways to give the directed amount.
- Make it adjustable and scalable: some board members may have a greater capacity to give, write in flexibility for each member.
- Create a clear timeline for pledges and payment during your calendar or fiscal year to help you budget and plan.
- Communicating the board gift expectation while recruiting a new board member is ideal; getting to the money is easier when there is an understanding of financial contribution before joining.
A sense of pride and deep engagement comes from taking a leadership role and providing an affirmative financial gift. Be sure you are acutely aware of when those donations are made and respond appropriately. The simple fact that the gift is expected doesn’t mean that the acknowledgement can be overlooked.
Need some strong examples of board giving policies? Do call, we have some really excellent samples to share.
310 828 6979
as always, thanks for reading, its a big deal
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