Nonprofit Board Give, Get or Get Off?
Some Nonprofit boards have a give, get, or get off policy and their Nonprofits are suffering because of it.
Read on and we’ll talk more about why Give, Get, or Get Off needs to get kicked to the curb and replaced by a Community-Based Fundraising model.
Yeah, sure, get 15 board members to guarantee giving or getting $100,000 each and you’ve got $1,500,000 which definitely helps with the budget. But does that board represent the community?
Consider this – if a Nonprofit requires that a board or cabinet members make a gift of a certain dollar amount, or that a member must solicit and secure a certain dollar amount, then a large number of possible volunteers will be excluded.
Big deal? Yes, Big Deal, because it is vital to build a board or cabinet that reflects and resembles the community the Nonprofit serves.
For example, I worked with a local educational Nonprofit that served children in public housing communities. A majority of the 20 board members made gifts over $100,000 to the Nonprofit. Some of the board members didn’t a single personal financial gift, but their Fortune 500 employers did.
One of the board members made a monthly donation, and the size of her donation depended on how much her water bill was each month. She was vital to the board because she was the only member who lived in public housing, and she provided context to the leadership that nobody else could. And of all the gifts made by board members, hers was the most personally significant.
When recruiting board members you flat-out cannot over-communicate the importance of fundraising and the responsibilities associated with board leadership. But I’ve come across way too many board members and even campaign cabinet volunteers who were not told they had to make a gift, much less of a certain size, or ask others for gifts in order to be on the board or cabinet. Disconnect!
Now, it’s essential you communicate those responsibilities up-front … and then, by all means, lose the dead weight because even just one person not living up to their responsibilities can tilt other members toward slacking off and not prioritizing fundraising. She isn’t involved in fundraising so I’m not going to be involved either – vs – oh, everyone else on the board is involved in fundraising, I better get my act together and get involved too! Momentum begets momentum – up or down!
Back to the Give Get or Get Off – I wholeheartedly recommend you take steps to ensure your board is representative of your community and your fundraising efforts involve the community. Here are some suggestions and examples of activities that can help you take a more Community Based Fundraising approach:
Hold Board and Committee meetings in areas where your Nonprofit has programs. For example, if you run programs in public housing or at schools, hold your board meetings at their community center or at a neighborhood school site.
Recruit authentic voices from the community to the board of directors. 1. E.g. – If you’re involved in helping at-risk students - recruit a school teacher or principal integrally involved in the program 2. Recruit parents and or grandparents of students in the program
Hire a fundraiser or fundraisers who come from the communities you serve.
Ensure the program’s professional fundraising team members are trained in anti-racism, systemic oppression, equity, wealth disparity, and other areas important to social justice.
Create opportunities for donors to further their understanding of the complexity of the work of the program.
If your Nonrpofit’s programs is rooted in social and economic justice, then your fundraising can also be rooted in social and economic justice by seeking to address the privilege and power often found in fundraising. This can be accomplished by moving toward a more mission-based fundraising approach which forges a “we” - rather than the appearance of the mutually exclusive worlds of donors and beneficiaries.
Too often this results in “othering” and reinforces the savior complex. This means moving away from donor communications stating that “you made this happen” to “together, we made this happen.”
All who engage in strengthening the community are equally valued, whether volunteers, staff, donors, or board members.
Integrate the beneficiaries’ needs with those of donors, and not the other way around.
Again, philanthropy is essential for Nonprofits to flourish and achieve positive social outcomes. But the Nonprofit should never lose sight of its community based mission and back it up with board leadership representative of the community and fundraising efforts that involve the community
Mike is a recognized expert, thought leader, advisor and speaker in the Nonprofit world. Over the past four decades, Mike served as an Executive Director, COO, see more