by Marie Palacios
How many of you can honestly say that 100% of your board members give their time, talent, and treasure to your organization?
If you answered “YES” to the above question, then kudos to you!
Most nonprofits begin hemming and hawing when asked if EVERY SINGLE ONE of their board members contribute financially. After a moment of mental calculations and running the board roster through their head, we usually get asked if in-kind contributions, volunteer hours, or professional services count as a financial gift.
The short answer is NO.
It is important to acknowledge and appreciate volunteer hours and in-kind gifts because these contributions play a major role in the success of an organization.
However, non-financial contributions can never take the place of a monetary gift for the following reasons:
- If board members won’t open their wallet, how can they possibly expect anyone else to? This is “leading by example” in its most basic form.
- Annual budgets should project both expenses and income. If your board members pledge an annual gift, it is easier to make more accurate income projections as it relates to the line item “contributions from individuals.”
- Grant proposals for foundations often ask what percentage of board members annually contribute FINANCIALLY to the board. Anything less than 100% is embarrassing.
- Grant proposals might even ask you to provide the total dollar amount board members contributed in the fiscal year and what percentage of you operating budget is comprised of their gifts.
- Time does NOT always equal money. At the end of the day, nonprofits have bills to pay, and the heart does not pay the bills…dollars do!
It is not our intent to minimize the importance of volunteer hours or skills that individual board members bring to the organization.
Best practice for effective board leadership is to demonstrate a commitment to your mission by making a financial contribution. Obviously, all board members might not be capable of donating at a leadership level, but every board member is capable of giving something.
Make it your organization’s goal to achieve 100% board giving! This is the first step to effectively engaging your board in the fundraising process.