Board members are your organization’s advocates, ambassadors and vital volunteers. It’s imperative that your board understands that their participation level sets the tone for community impact.
The infamous fundraising expression “give, get or get off,” is a great rule of thumb to help guarantee board giving. It’s not intended to be harsh: non-profits have a limited number of board seats, and it’s important that they are filled with productive members. This theory creates expectations, productivity, and accountability. Simply put, board members can either give a certain amount of their own finances, solicit others to give toward an agreed upon goal, or step down from the board. Securing donations from employers or corporations can also be viable ways for them to secure annual contributions. Gifts-in-kind can also count toward giving goals, if they help offset annual expenses.
Your organization should integrate a customized giving policy for board members into the annual budget and fundraising goals. Universal giving expectations and policies do not exist because every organization is unique, but there are best practices to help you determine what will work best for you and your organization’s needs.
6 Strategies to Drive 100% Board Giving Participation:
- Transparency is key during the cultivation stage while communicating board roles, involvement and expectations. In the final stages, review the board giving policy during an intimate meeting between the CEO, key leaders and the prospect. Seasoned donors will expect this deliverable and will welcome a clear understanding of their commitment. Create a leave-behind for them to review on their own time since the prospect most likely did not retain all information discussed. The detailed package will help them make an educated decision.
Board prospect packet should include:
- Mission Statement
- Vision Statement
- Strategic Plan
- Board of Director Roster
- Board Giving Policy
- Leadership Team Biographies/Roles
- Meeting Minutes (last 12 months)
- Board Sub-Committees
- Board interaction must be consistent, informative and objective throughout their service (and beyond), creating the critical connection. Ambassadors have been selected for their abilities and commitment to making a difference, and it’s your duty to provide them with the necessary resources. If staffing permits, identify a single person to serve as the primary point of contact, such as a board liaison or the CEO’s executive assistant. Board interaction will vary among organizations, but meaningful contact with them is guaranteed at board meetings, committee meetings, retreats, socials and events. In return, this will enhance their experience, and hopefully their giving.
- Frequency of board meetings is at the discretion of each organization and reflects the organization’s needs and bylaws. You want to stimulate the members’ connection with your organization and always try to remain top of mind. Smaller boards could meet once monthly, while larger boards tend to meet quarterly. Clearly communicate dates and distribute any necessary materials one week in advance. This sets the tone for productive working sessions, open discussion and resolutions. Your goal is to make each meeting productive and ensure members feel their time is being spent wisely. Reporting is impactful but not often the best use of time. You’ll find that board meetings with brief reporting and heavy discussion are the most productive.
- Divide your board into sub-committees that focus on specific subject matters and departments. This tactic increases the organization’s transparency, the members’ involvement, and helps secure their annual donations. An impactful board creates a two-way relationship of purpose and responsibility.
- Ongoing stewardship is imperative to keeping any board member truly engaged. As time progresses, get to know each board member personally along with their families. Staff will meet their friends and family which provides a customizable level of stewardship. For example, maintain a database with your board members’ birthdays, anniversaries, career achievements, and other important milestones. Pay attention to their lives outside of your organization and become well versed in their personal endeavors. Value the material they share with you, and use it to your advantage.
- Board members want to engage with all levels of staff and witness, first-hand, how their efforts are utilized. Remember, it’s easier to keep a donor than to acquire a new one, and this also applies to board members. Invite them to events or functions that would interest them and/or their family. Strengthening your engagement process, while updating them on initiatives, will keep your organization top of mind. When a situation allows, make sure to introduce them to staff that they haven’t encountered before. This deepens their relationship with your organization with the prospect of ultimately increasing their involvement level.
Board giving, in totality, is important to an organization’s success and morale. Board members are meant to lead and must set an example. One hundred percent board giving demonstrates trust, and donors, members, volunteers and staff will mirror these actions. A board’s loyalty and passion will increase over time, benefiting your efforts and fundraising goals. Have fun interacting with your board, and enjoy what they afford your mission.