Building a Generous Board

I talked with an Executive Director and his Board Chair this morning about how to increase the expected level of giving by each member of the Board.  They wanted the standard Board Member gift to be $5,000.  It is currently much less.  The question was how to get there.

The answer is a bit more complicated than they had hoped.

Of course one needs to make members of the Board aware of the $5,000 expectation, but that is the last thing you need to do.  There is quite a bit of work that is needed first.  Let’s walk backwards through the steps.

To get a $5,000 gift from each member of the Board you need a Board that is passionate about the organization and has members that each have $5,000 to give.  This might take some new Board Member recruitment.

To get a passionate Board with money you need to have Board meetings that run well and use the talents of the Board Members.  This might take some changes to the agendas of Board Meetings.

To have well-run Board meetings and Board Members that feel valued you need well-organized Staff who help the Board make good decisions by providing time on the agenda to discuss ideas and Staff who provide, in advance, the detailed answers to the obvious questions related to the decision (dollars, time, work involved, etc.).  This will take pre-meeting planning time on the part of Staff.

In short, to reach the level where each member of the Board is giving $5,000, the Board Chair and the Executive Director need a plan for Board involvement in the organization…and they need a total package of steps as a kind of “Talent Campaign.”  Much like a fundraising campaign the Executive Director and the Board Chair need to launch a campaign that seeks out talented Board Members and keeps them on the Board.  That talent who will attract more talent.  This recruitment is just like a pyramidal fundraising campaign where you identify the lead gift (the talented rock star member of the Board) that attracts the next gifts (other talented folks), and the next, etc.

Talent + Passion = More Resources

But yeah, sure.  You can easily set the expectation of $5,000 gifts by all members of the Board, that is, if you do a little upfront work.

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