Jay Love is a guest contributor for Nonprofit Hub. He’s currently the CEO and Co-Founder of Bloomerang and the Senior Vice President of Avectra—both organizations serving the nonprofit sector with cutting edge technology tools for fundraising and communications.
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A financial commitment by every board member at your nonprofit is essential for the growth and success of the organization, as well as the furthering of its mission.

Unfortunately, many who have worked with or on a nonprofit board has perhaps had the chance to witness first-hand the tense discussion regarding individual board members’ personal financial commitment.

But why should this conversation be so tense?

The Expectation is There

When considering whether to ask your board members to make a financial commitment, consider these scenarios:

  • A notable foundation is willing to make a game-changing grant. Their documentation states that there must be 100% participation from the board in order for the grant to be a reality.
  • The CEO of a corporation stepping up as the major sponsor for your signature event would like to know if everyone on the board is an active donor.
  • Board members who have introduced friends as potential donors have heard those friends ask why they were not listed in the back of the annual report as a long-term loyal supporter of the mission.

There is not a potential board member in existence who, when explained the three scenarios listed above, would insist on becoming a board member without making a financial commitment.

If you are properly researching and vetting prospective board members, you will likely select only those with a strong sense of allegiance to the mission, as well as previous donations of time and money. The conversation surrounding a required financial commitment should be moot!

Consider a Written Board Commitment Form

A written board commitment form that lays out the requirements of being a board member can include the financial commitment requirement, thereby removing the need for any initial, awkward in-person broaching of the subject.

The last two times I have been part of a board discussion regarding the use of written board commitment forms, the topic was introduced quite gingerly by a senior staff person of the charity. In one case, everyone on the board was already a donor. In the other, nearly everyone was contributing annually.

Within ten minutes of the conversation commencing, you could see slight smiles forming. Those smiles never left the faces of the staff and fellow board members as board member after board member stated emphatically how they have witnessed this practice at other charities, often at far higher levels than being proposed.

You could sense the confidence rising as additional board members related major gift stories based upon the initial board commitment as the foundation for the new gift, or how the 100% board giving led to a historic foundation grant.

Transparency is No Longer an Option

We are in an age where much information is shared and available on an organization’s website or through the various nonprofit watchdog groups.

Such information sharing has helped make this topic of board commitment much more open to everyone. Also, keep in mind, if you are asking the right kind of person to become a future board member, chances are, this is not their first rodeo when it comes to board memberships.

Ask around to other seasoned nonprofit leaders for their opinion and be prepared to charge forward in establishing proper board commitment levels for your charity.

There’s enough for you to be tense about with regards to fundraising. This issue shouldn’t be one of them.