Why Your Board Should Raise 10 Percent of Your Nonprofit’s Budget
It's no secret that nonprofits struggle with money. In fact, the Nonprofit Finance Fund's most recent State of the Nonprofit Sector Survey found that 41 percent of nonprofit respondents ran a deficit in 2012. If we really want to rewrite this rule for the nonprofit sector, we need to make some pretty big changes.
So here's a radical idea.
What if every nonprofit board was responsible for bringing in 10 percent of its nonprofit's annual operating budget?
That means that if your nonprofit's budget is $1 million, your board would be responsible for raising $100,000 each year. Board members could do that through a combination of give/get activities, meaning they could all write personal checks (at whatever level makes sense for them individually) and then use their unique skills, experience and networks to raise the remaining amount.
That's a crazy idea, right?
I don't think so. Here's why.
The board must really understand the money engine
A board of directors simply cannot separate itself from the financial engine of the nonprofit. The entire board must fully understand and contribute to how money flows to the organization. Board members cannot argue that money is the purview of the staff; money has to be part of the board's job. Until we make the board really participate in making the financial engine run, it won't be able to have substantive conversations about how to raise or spend that money.
The board must share the burden
I'm so tired of silly, small board fundraising goals. Does a 15-member board that brings in only $15,000 out of a $1 million budget really make a difference? Absolutely not. That's pennies. If board members are truly going to lead the nonprofit that they serve, they must share the financial burden. Ten percent of the operating budget starts to make a significant dent, so let's start there.