Increasing Board Giving

Many executive directors agonize over how to ask their board members to give to the organization.  You may realize that some board members have not given in several years or have given only a nominal amount.  This is obviously discouraging, especially when each board member has heard each report about the financial challenges of the organization.  Sometimes these board members are even the most critical of weaknesses in the development activities.

As the CEO, you correctly realize that the organization will never be all it can be until the entire board is fully committed to its mission – emotionally and financially.  In the meantime, while you are waiting for that ‘perfect’ board - that board that only has wealthy, generous participants with an evangelistic spirit toward the organization, how do you get them to give now?

Two things will help in this regard.

One long term solution is to be very clear in cultivating new board members that the financial support of each board member is a necessity – in fact it is a requirement for board membership.  Many boards have this requirement but have set a modest ‘minimum’ amount.  The problem then becomes that members feel they have “done their part” even though the suggested minimum amount may be far below the capabilities of that member. 

So, we get back to the problem of having a board member who is not really committed to the mission.  A biblical admonition comes to mind.  Jesus said “Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”  The more a board member has ‘invested’ in the mission, the greater his or her zeal becomes.

Secondly, several successful organizations report that they have an annual meeting involving the board chair, the CEO and each individual board member.  At this meeting there are three things covered. 

  1.  Appreciation is expressed for their service.  Their level of involvement (committees, special projects etc.) is discussed and they are asked if there are new areas of interest.

  2. Ask if there are any issues that would affect them being fully engaged in board activity, either family or professionally related.

  3. Ask them for a commitment for their annual gift.  Ideally, this will be done in such a manner the board member will gain confidence to similarly ask support of others in their personal network.  Even better is to arrange a meeting of potential donors with the board chair and/or CEO.

Active financial support from your board is vital to the sound perpetuity of the organization.  As the CEO, it is important to develop each board member into the leader their capabilities allow them to be.