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Funding and SustainabilityNonprofit Boards

Board Giving: Why They Should and Why it Matters

By October 19, 2023No Comments

As we approach the end of 2023, it is time to address one of the most asked questions in the world of nonprofits.

Do board members need to give financially to the organization?

In most cases, nonprofit board members devote a lot of time and energy to the nonprofit boards on which they serve. So, is this service enough? Do they need to contribute financially as well? In one word, YES!

When working with nonprofits and ministries, I encourage board members to look at all of their resources. Our Creator has given us three resources – time, talent, and treasure to be used for the Kingdom. How we use each of these is a reflection of where our heart is.

Quite often, board members will say, “well, I give lots of time, so I don’t need to give any money.” However, this is simply not the case. While nonprofit board members dedicate significant time and work to their respective boards, financial contributions are equally important. Giving of one’s time is important, but generosity of time, talent, and treasure reflects one’s commitment to the organization’s mission. Board members need to understand that their financial contributions are crucial to its sustainability.

Although discussing board giving can be uncomfortable, it is a necessary conversation for the capacity and sustainability of nonprofits. In the last couple of months, I have spoken with no less than five organizations that did not receive grant funding because all their board members are not making financial contributions. Foundations have an expectation that 100% of board members are contributing financially to the organization. If you think about it, this makes sense. It is very difficult to expect someone else to give to an organization if the board is not giving themselves.  If the leaders affiliated with the organization are not willing to contribute, then why should anyone else contribute?

The next logical question is even more difficult. How much do board members need to give? The best answer is all board members should contribute at a level that is meaningful and significant for them. I like this response because nonprofits may have people from all walks of life on their boards including constituents of services as well as professionals; clearly, board members could have very different income levels and thus, very different abilities to give.  The important thing is that they are giving.

While many organizations do not like to discuss the issue of board giving, particularly before a new board member joins, it is an issue that requires transparency and honesty. One approach is to have all board members sign a board commitment letter outlining the organization’s expectations of each board member. The commitment letter should be signed annually by all board members.

Board giving is a difficult subject but one that will help your organization move forward as a stronger, more effective organization. We can help you develop a board commitment letter for your board, contact us today to get started.

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