by Janine Vanderburg
When asked whether all board members contribute to nonprofit organizations they serve, many of us have heard: “Well no, but I contribute my time” OR “Well our board members are from the community and can’t afford to.” OR many others…
Now there will be new incentive for ALL board members to contribute financially.
In asking grant applicants to describe the role of the board of directors in advancing the mission of the organization, the revised Colorado Common Grant Application—to be released to the nonprofit community on April 1—will ask you to name “the percentage of the board that contributes financially to the organization.”
This is consistent with best practice in the field. Principles and Practices for Nonprofit Excellence in Colorado calls for board members to “volunteer time, raise external funds, and make financial contributions to the non-profit.” [emphasis added].
Yet we know from our work with boards that moving a board to make this the expectation for all board members can be difficult.
So last week, in our JVA 411, JVA Consulting asked Colorado nonprofits: What percentage of your board contributes financially to your organization?
Here’s what you said:
62% said that 100% of your board contributes financially
22% gave answers between 80% and 99%
16% gave answers under 80%, with 4.5% stating that fewer than 10% contribute financially.
We also received comments from many of you about why and how your board contributes. Several key themes emerged:
Many nonprofit organizations require their board members to contribute financially to their organization. Of these organizations, there is often a minimum contribution that is obligatory as part of being a board member.
- “The vast majority of my board members make financial contributions to the organization. Those that don’t provide in-kind services. Donating to the organization is a requirement of board members—if they can’t afford it, they either raise it elsewhere or provide in-kind elements.”
- “We require 100% giving in the board member agreement and follow up periodically throughout each fiscal year to make sure we get it.”
- “It is a board policy.”
- “We have a $250.00 minimum donation per board member.”
Although some nonprofit organizations do not require their board members to contribute financially, many nonprofits say that the majority of their board members do, however, contribute, despite the amount they give.
- “The dollar range is wide, but 100% do give and a bunch do work to get other donations too.”
- “Although not filled with very wealthy people, all Board members contribute financially.”
- “They don’t all give a lot of money, but they do donate.”
- “20% give above what would be considered a minimal contribution.”
Some nonprofits find that the majority of their board members contribute financially. However, there have been some exceptions of individual board members that choose not to contribute.
- “We strive for 100%, but occasionally you get the board member who doesn’t see the importance of this.”
Many nonprofits do not require nor expect their board members to contribute financially.
- “It hasn’t been requested in the past, the ED is trying to create a culture of change for that. Typically our organization hasn’t done much in the realm of fundraising, thus the board has been excluded from this aspect.”
- “Due to the way our organization is structured, money is not generally an issue and we do not need to pressure our Board to donate.”
- “We don’t have a required or even suggested dollar amount, but everyone happily gives.”
The bottom line: With Principles and Practices, and the advent of the revised Common Grant Application, there are new tools for you to encourage 100% board participation. It is difficult to convince a public or private funder to fund your issue, cause or programs when those closest—your board members—are not investing themselves.
Next actions: We have 2 suggestions:
1) Forward this to board members of organizations you are affiliated with, with a personal note of why they should be interested. Our goal when we send out this question next year: 100% of organizations will say 100% of their board members contribute!
2) Sign up your board members for a board orientation (or board re-orientation), led by JVA Consulting. Call us at 303.477.4896 to set up a customized session for your board.
Thanks to JVA Consulting intern Alex Haffner, who helped compile the responses to our question.
You can still weigh in: click here to respond to the question.
To sign up for JVA 411, JVA’s free weekly enewsletter with announcements of funding opportunities, news about the sector and hot tips about your work, click here.