Why Your Non-Profit Needs an Organized Board Giving Campaign

by Joe Garecht

Board Fundraising

While almost every non-profit I have worked with has recognized the need for their board members to lead the overall fundraising effort by making a donation, I have been surprised at just how many schools, churches, and charities fail to implement an organized “board giving campaign.”

Instead, these organizations mention that they would like board members to give… they may even include a line item in the budget for “board giving.”  But instead of relying on a well thought out board giving strategy, their plan is simply to wait around and hope.  This is a huge mistake.  Every non-profit, no matter how small or large, needs to hold an annual board giving campaign to encourage 100% of their board members to make a general fund donation to the cause.

If your organization is not yet running a campaign like this – or are holding a less effective “informal” board giving effort, here are three reasons why your non-profit needs to launch a formal board giving campaign this year:

1.   More Board Members Will Give, and Those That Do Will Give More

Do you know why annual fundraising events raise so much money for so many organizations?  Because they are formal channels for giving that are well planned and organized.  Development teams sit down, decide how much they want an event to raise, develop a plan for sponsors, tickets, silent auctions, etc., set a firm deadline (the date of the event) and publicize both their goal and the results of their efforts.  This is a highly organized and planned event that encourages people to give.

Likewise, a formal board giving campaign that is well planned and well organized will encourage your board members to give… and will encourage those who already give to give more.  The board will have a concrete goal and a set deadline, along with a formal ask.  All three will combine to create a powerful incentive for board members to write a (larger) check.

2.  You Will Encourage 100% Participation

Make sure that part of your plan for your board giving campaign is 100% participation (i.e. that every board member gives at least something to the organization).  This is important because many donors, most foundations, and almost every major philanthropist will want to know that your board is fully invested in your mission before they themselves make a donation.  The best way to show this is to be able to announce that your non-profit has a 100% board giving rate.

A formal board giving campaign is the best way to encourage 100% board participation.

3.  It Takes the Pressure Off…

A formal board giving campaign takes the pressure off of your development staff when it comes to board fundraising.   The best board giving campaigns involve the chairman of the board of directors making the primary ask of the board (even if this is through a letter).  The board knows the goal, and sees progress… Thus, instead of spending all year waiting around dropping hints to the board, a board campaign allows the development staff to work with the chairman to set and publicize a goal, and to encourage board members to meet that goal… ideally, one they all vote to approve at a board meeting, which creates buy-in.

Does your organization have an organized board giving campaign?  If not, now is the time to start one.  When you’re ready to get started, check out our step-by-step guide to running your first (or next) board giving campaign.

 

 

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Linda S. Foley June 18, 2013 at 1:36 pm

Finding your article at this time is perfect, as I am encouraging a board to do this very thing presently.
Great advice.
L

Joe Garecht June 18, 2013 at 3:58 pm

Linda,

Thanks for your comment – glad to help!

Joe

Kimberly Holmes April 21, 2014 at 2:49 pm

Your articles are very timely and informative. Thank you for the advice!

Kimberly

jeanne blum July 9, 2014 at 11:23 am

Regarding 100% board participation: Is a board member required to give from his/her personal resources? Does a board member owned-business contribution count as a ‘give?’ If a board member purchases /sponsors a table (or other) at a fundraising event, does this qualify as a ‘give’?
Thank you.

Joe Garecht July 10, 2014 at 1:30 pm

Jeanne,

The guidelines and suggestions around this vary by non-profit, but in my mind, every board member should be making a personal contribution to the organization of at least $1 to show personal commitment. Of course, if the board member is the sole owner of a business such that the business “is” the person, and they write you a check from the business, you may want to count that as a “personal” donation. On the other hand, if the board member works for a large company and the company writes a $1,000 check to every organization where its employees sit on boards, that’s hardly a personal donation.

Personal donations show that the board member cares about and is committed to the non-profit. These unrestricted board gifts should be in addition to any event or campaign donations the board member makes.

Joe

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