Board Training, Management & Governance Insights

A Board “Give and Get” is Key to a Nonprofit’s Success

Fundraising is central to any nonprofit board member’s role. As a way for you to demonstrate your commitment to the organization you serve, setting an annual fundraising goal is one of the most important things you can do to ensure the fiduciary health of the organization. 

It takes a culture of philanthropy that starts from the top for any nonprofit to succeed. This means the board of directors should prioritize a Give and Get policy as part of its requirements to govern the organization they serve and have engagement plans specifically designed to evaluate the board’s involvement in fundraising.

Some organizations (usually very small ones) can get by without a “Give and Get.” Even specific board members (for instance, celebrity or influencer board member whose main contribution is lending their name) may be exempted from a “Give and Get.” But in general, it’s best practice to have some kind of contribution level for board members. 

That doesn’t mean it has to be an intimidating one in the thousands (or tens of thousands) of dollars that scares off potential members and makes those you do recruit miserable all year. It can be $50 or $100 per person; it can even be scaled by income (even with students who might represent a “youth voice” on the board). Whatever you choose, it should be reasonable and well within the grasp of every director, rich or poor, employed or unemployed. 

Why a “Give and Get?” Why not “Give or Get?” Because those who only give, never have to deal with potential donors and that’s one of a director’s most important functions – to make introductions for their Executive Director. Also, for wealthier directors (should you be so lucky to recruit one) it prevents them from just “buying” their commitment every year. 

Similarly, for those who only “get,” you have to ask why they’re on your board if they don’t want to donate any money to it – even a modest, affordable amount. Other donors will often ask if “the board” is giving before they determine their own gift level. If at all possible, you want everyone to have some “skin in the game” and to feel a sense of personal ownership. 

One thing to keep in mind is you will not have to do this alone. Fundraising is a team effort. Your Executive Director and staff are there to support your outreach efforts, strategize your asks, and plan your personal fundraising activities. In the end, there is no silver bullet or magic to fundraising, just ongoing strategic thinking and planning with all-hands-on-deck. 

If you are a nonprofit interested in establishing or reinvigorating a board, we can help. Schedule a complimentary consultation with us or contact us at [email protected].

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