Your board is the leadership of your nonprofit organization. Not only does the board fulfill its role of setting policy and planning for the organization’s future, its individual members are expected to set the stage for fundraising by making their own gift to the organization. This is more commonly known as board giving.
That’s important for every board, but in small nonprofits board giving is critical.
One hundred percent board giving means that each of your board members makes a financial gift to the organization. Specifically, board members give from their own checking account. Securing a company gift is great and certainly welcome, but it’s not the same as board members committing personal resources.
Ideally, board members should do both. They should make their own gifts and get gifts from their employers. They should seek out donations from friends, colleagues, and clubs they belong to, basically tapping every connection they can to support the nonprofit they lead.
Personal giving requires a personal commitment, and that’s what you should get from your board members. In a small nonprofit, those donations mean money for operations, but they also demonstrate support and solidarity. For staff members at a small organization, having that support from the board means a great deal. It lets them know that others believe in their mission as much as they do. It also keeps staff (especially an executive director) from turning into a lone ranger.
For most nonprofits, it doesn’t matter how much board members give, although it should be one of their top charitable gifts for the year. By becoming a board member, an individual commits to supporting the organization in a significant way. Surely that organization is worthy to be among each board member’s top supported organizations. In other words, if someone sits on your board, they should be committed enough to your organization to give more to it than just about any other they support.
Some board members think it’s enough that they give their time, but it’s not. It’s wonderful if they volunteer. But to be responsible board members, they must support the organization monetarily. It’s also not enough to give in-kind gifts.
I can’t tell you how many donor stories I’ve heard where the donor wants to know how many board members have made a gift. Donors are much savvier today than ever before. Some aren’t willing to make a leadership-size gift if your organization’s leaders aren’t giving in that capacity, too.
And if you’re thinking of conducting a big fundraising campaign or engaging them in fundraising during the holidays, you definitely want your board members to make their own donation first before they try to ask someone for a gift. It prevents some awkwardness for the board member and the donor.
If you don’t have 100 percent small nonprofit board giving, get started on it today. Your donors and the community are watching.