Should You Adopt a 'Give or Get' Policy for Your Board?
Should you have a minimum for all board members to give? Should you … could you … implement this policy? I work with a lot of boards all around, and I have to say that the highest-performing boards I've seen do.
If you are considering this as an expectation for your board, ponder these questions:
1. Would it be considered heavy-handed?
If you are a smaller organization with a grassroots board, this policy may come across as imposing and inappropriate. You may alienate some board members if this feels forced upon them.
If you are a larger organization with a highly experienced, business-oriented board, your board members would probably consider this very appropriate.
Your success in implementing this policy is really based on the experience level of your organization and your board.
2. How can you best get this adopted by your board?
This policy has to come from the board members themselves. It's an expectation that has to be agreed upon and adopted by the board members.
It doesn't work for staff to propose this policy. Staff can be behind the scenes guiding discussions, but the board members themselves have to discuss and agree on it.
Let the executive committee or board governance committee propose this and set up the discussions about what's appropriate. It can be a volatile issue, so staff should let board members take the lead.
3. Is it too 'one size fits all'?
My problem is that some board members can give much more than others. And setting a standard dollar amount as an expectation can feel like setting the bar too low.
You may be putting yourself in a box — letting those wealthier board members off the hook. I personally would much rather have my board members solicited privately with asks that are customized to their financial circumstances.
4. How can we enforce this expectation?
This is the toughest question. Some boards adopt the give-or-get policy, but no one pays attention to it. Here's how to enforce it:
- The board chair cheerfully reminds everyone at each meeting of this policy. It is discussed openly.
- The executive committee cheerfully sets an example and encourages all the other board members to meet the expectation.
- The staff offers tools to help board members "get" the money they want to raise. For example: event tickets or sponsorships, lists of lapsed donors to call, a fun fundraising initiative everyone can get behind.
It's really up to the staff to help board members meet the give-or-get goal. Staff can encourage, remind, hand-hold and literally offer a fundraising path for well-meaning and dedicated board members to follow.
Don't abandon your board members when it comes to their fundraising responsibilities. Help them get there. Show them what to do. Give them training. And have some fun with it all!