Board Giving – And the two P’s – Policy and Plan for Action
Board giving is often a topic of conversation that we have with many of our not for profit clients. Many Boards spend considerable time defining their role in securing resources for the organization. Personal contribution is an essential part of that discussion. Each Board should determine its own personal giving policy and the target should be to reach 100 percent Board member participation.
Why should board members give? According to Board Source, here are some rationales:
- Board members of most charitable organizations are expected to participate in fundraising. An appeal is particularly convincing if a Board member can use him or herself as an exemplary donor.
- The Board is responsible for providing a sound financial basis for the organization. By personally contributing, a Board member recognizes this responsibility and demonstrates a commitment.
- Nearly 90 percent of American households contribute to charities. A Board member should designate their own organization as one of the main recipients of their generosity.
- Many foundations only contribute to organizations where every Board member is a contributor. And, savvy donors also may ask this question of the Board before they determine what they might give to an organization.
To make things especially clear and concise, a Board must have a personal giving or fundraising policy and ensure that it can be fulfilled. A policy helps avoid any misunderstandings and it should be shared with every new Board candidate as well so that they are familiar with what will be expected of them.
So now that we have established that a plan needs to be in place and that expectations should be clear, just how much should each Board member give? We often say that the amount a Board member should give should not be an equal amount but rather an equal sacrifice. Not everyone on a Board sits at the same financial place. Therefore, most policies determine a range and suggest a minimum amount and encourage each member to give generously given their own financial stature.
So, now that we have a plan, how do we ensure Board giving? One of the best ways to do this is to have a personal roadmap for each Board member. With our clients, we often develop a Board member score card or individualized plan which highlights their activity and commitments from the prior fiscal year and helps map out their plans for giving and engagement in the upcoming year. About mid-way through the year, a touch point with each Board member is important to share progress that has been made or areas in which they have continued work. When the fiscal year is nearing its close, it’s also important again for the Board Chair to reach out if a Board member has not fulfilled their promise. With a clear policy on Board giving and individual plans for each Board member, you will set your organization up for success to reach that 100 percent participation goal!
by: Susanna Decker, Senior Consultant HPS Chicago