Developing Board Time, Talent, Treasure — and Tradition
The other day a valued young colleague came into my office. He knew that I had spent years directing fundraising programs and wanted to know if I had success using a board, volunteers or staff to help ask for gifts. Ideally, you would like your board to lead the way providing time, talent, treasure — and help direct fundraising initiatives.
In my career as a practitioner and consultant, I have experienced a wide variety of board fundraising teams leading or not leading the way due to a variety of reasons. Most fundraising professionals would immediately think about board engagement in a fundraising context. In your experience, have you dealt with board volunteers that have contributed the right combination of time, talent and treasure needed? Do board members in your organization understand their roles and responsibility to assist their nonprofit generally and with fundraising specifically?
Board service terms, such as time, talent and treasure, are usually nonspecific as to expectations. A written, confidential annual board member agreement should address expectations. With respect to time, board members should expect to attend committee meetings, board meetings and organizational events. Talent is based on board member experiences and capabilities, new experiences, and willingness to open doors with key connectors to enhance organizational visibility. Board members should give to the best of their personal ability and ask others, such as individuals, corporations, foundations, associations and organizations, for gifts benefiting the board member’s nonprofit.
To develop board time, talent and treasure, America Charities states you must recruit great board members that have capacity and ability to develop as a board member. To succeed in recruiting board members, know your current board makeup and understand ways to strengthen the board. Build a board recruitment pipeline by knowing when each board member term expires and understanding how to effectively replace them. Ask potential board members to meet with you and share board information with them. Tell them the meaning of time, talent and treasure. Give the prospective board member a picture of what serving your nonprofit means. Strive to excite the potential board member on how their involvement would enhance the organization.
Colleen Dilenschneider notes that board members grossly overestimated the importance of their own time and talent, and believed personal philanthropy is the least of their responsibilities in the time-talent-treasure continuum, according to a recent study by IMPACTS on board involvement with nonprofits. Executive leadership and board members differed on the importance of assets brought forth by their service with nonprofits. The study found that staff leadership believed securing funds is by far the most significant role of board members. This study also pointed out that board members — except those at larger organizations — believe lending their talent is their key role and raising funds is the least of their responsibilities.
The best practice is for board members to give of their time, talent and treasure. Time is the amount of their volunteer service to the organization. Talent is the unique skills and gifts each member uniquely provides the organization. Treasure is one’s money and wealth. All board members need to give at an amount meaningful and significant to them.
For most nonprofit organizations, the most important activity for their board members is to open doors to prospects. There are four ways a board member can do this and make the prospect engagement process relaxing and meaningful:
- Develop an elevator speech/personalized message
- Create contagious energy by removing the fear of soliciting
- Have a conversation with prospects and listen
- Devise an invitation to follow up with them for a next step
Board members are volunteer workers, fundraisers, cheerleaders and accountability partners for their nonprofits. It is important to develop time, talent and treasure through setting expectations for board member performance. When someone asks you to serve on a board, understand the time commitment. Board members need to know their expected job responsibilities and if they have the time each month to fulfill expectations.
Board members need to realize what talents nonprofits are looking for in each board member engagement. The board member must be honest in what they can provide talent wise. Board members also need to know if there is a give-get policy and individual financial expectations. Transparency is vital so every board member knows their giving requirements on day one of their board tenure.
By providing proper board member guidelines in writing and recruiting well, board members will understand what the concept of time, talent and treasure means to them and the organization they represent. Over time, if done well, the three Ts board tradition will lead to a higher quality board.
Duke Haddad, Ed.D., CFRE, is currently associate director of development, director of capital campaigns and director of corporate development for The Salvation Army Indiana Division in Indianapolis. He also serves as president of Duke Haddad and Associates LLC and is a freelance instructor for Nonprofit Web Advisor.
He has been a contributing author to NonProfit PRO since 2008.
He received his doctorate degree from West Virginia University with an emphasis on education administration plus a dissertation on donor characteristics. He received a master’s degree from Marshall University with an emphasis on public administration plus a thesis on annual fund analysis. He secured a bachelor’s degree (cum laude) with an emphasis on marketing/management. He has done post graduate work at the University of Louisville.
Duke has received the Fundraising Executive of the Year Award, from the Association of Fundraising Professionals Indiana Chapter. He also was given the Outstanding West Virginian Award, Kentucky Colonel Award and Sagamore of the Wabash Award from the governors of West Virginia, Kentucky and Indiana, respectively, for his many career contributions in the field of philanthropy.