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Executive Report: 27% of Nonprofit Boards Don’t All Actively Give

Published by Riley Young

27% of nonprofits indicated that their Board of Directors are not all active donors.

This is according to a recent OpX360 Executive Study of 155 Nonprofits benchmarking their marketing, fundraising, and communication practices suggesting a reluctance of some nonprofits to either fundraise from Board Members or require board giving. 

BoardSource, another recognized leader in nonprofit board research, sites 68 percent of nonprofit organizations have a policy requiring board members to make a personal contribution on an annual basis. Boards average 74 percent participation in giving; however, on the average, only 46 percent of boards had a 100 percent participation.

Some nonprofits and/or board members even mistakenly believe their giving of their time and talent is a sufficient replacement for the giving of their treasure.

In any case, your nonprofit will suffer if you cannot report consistent 100% Board Giving.

The most obvious ways are:

  • Commitment and support will be uncertain to all interested parties.
  • Others in the organization will see it as license to not give themselves.
  • Many foundations and larger donors only contribute to nonprofits where every board member is a financial partner.

A clear awareness of giving expectations should be understood by every board member. This should include each board member signing off on a well-defined written Personal Giving Policy outlining expectations, why it’s important, giving guidelines, and consequences for non-compliance. 

Don’t have a Personal Giving Policy yet? It’s easy to get started.

Draft a Board Policy

The board should draft a Personal Giving Policy. The Board Chair or Chair of the Philanthropy Committee could enlist a board member known for their sensibility and thoughtfulness to make the case and find a consensus among other board members.

As this policy touches each board member personally, it is essential to create a fair rule and can be easily administered. To avoid any misunderstandings, every board candidate should be introduced to the policy when considering the board position and asked to recommit to the policy annually thereafter.

Define Giving Guidelines

Author Larry Johnson in his seminal work, The Eight Principles of Sustainable Fundraising, states, “personal giving need not be – and almost never are – equal.” The key to successful personal giving performance is commensurate giving, that is, “giving by each board member commensurate to his or her giving ability.”

A viable policy could suggest a minimum donation amount and encourage each member to give generously according to his or her means. A board member should further designate the organization as one of the main recipients of his or her philanthropy.

100% Board Giving is Important for Effective Board Governance

Personal giving is necessary for establishing organizational leadership. One of the responsibilities of the board is to provide sound financial leadership for the organization. 100% of board members should be expected to participate in personal giving as an external expression of their mutual agreement and commitment.

Others, inside and outside the organization, are looking to the Board of Directors for their conviction and assurance. How better to express this kind of leadership than board members committing their time, talent. and treasure to the organization first.

Staff and volunteers will be more likely to follow leaders who give fully of themselves personally, and financial partners will have more confidence knowing the board is fully invested in the organization.    

In Conclusion

Those who lead nonprofits, particularly Board Members, must invest in the organizations they serve both from a leadership standpoint as well as financially. This can be accomplished effectively and efficiently with a simple 100% Board Giving Focus and Personal Giving Policy.

Further, nonprofit executive leadership should consider making 100% Board Giving a Board Development area of measurement and Personal Giving a key part of their overall success metrics and planning.

You should contact your attorney to obtain advice with respect to this or any issue or problem.

For a 20% discount off the OpX360 Fundraising, Marketing and Communications survey for your nonprofit, apply discount coupon NEXTAFTER upon check out.

Get more insights for nonprofit executives

Want to see what else we learned from benchmarking the fundraising, marketing, and communications practices of 155 nonprofits?

You can get access to the full Nonprofit Fundraising Executive Benchmark Report for free here.

Published by Riley Young

Riley Landenberger is Audience Engagement Manager at NextAfter.