Many nonprofits choose to set a clear fundraising expectation from each member of their nonprofit board. However some nonprofits choose to let their board members decide the amount of their gift to the organization each year. Others permit board volunteers to give in ways that aren’t financial. But what are the risks and rewards of setting a minimum board giving level?
What is a Minimum Gift for Your Nonprofit Board?
Every nonprofit approaches the idea of a minimum gift to their organization differently. The size and frequency of the gift requested will change for each unique nonprofit.
For some, a minimum gift of $100 is reasonable while for others the floor for board gifts begins at $2,500 or more. Other nonprofits may find success requesting board members join their monthly giving program.
This minimum gift often appears in a nonprofit’s bylaws or is shared during the initial recruitment or orientation stage for your new volunteer.
Advantages of Board Giving Minimums
A strong board giving program sets nonprofits up for success. Your board often represents a strong coalition of well-connected community leaders with financial means. Setting a board minimum may be the correct step to establish or boost board giving at your nonprofit.
Sets Clear Expectations
Printing the minimum donation for a board member in your nonprofit’s bylaws establishes a clear expectation of giving to your organization in order to be eligible for board service. This removes a significant amount of anxiety and uncertainty when approaching board members for their donation.
A board minimum can also provide a straightforward way to address a low-performing board member. When you openly communicate what it takes to be a board member at your organization, including a mandatory gift of at least a certain dollar amount, it is much easier to objectively measure the performance of your board members and make needed adjustments.
Boosts Grant and Foundation Support
A majority of grants and foundation gifts require nonprofits to demonstrate 100 percent board giving during their application process. This standard expectation from critical funders in the industry illustrates how important it is for all of your board members to step up and support your nonprofit’s mission.
One simple way to justify establishing a new board giving minimum at your nonprofit is by sharing this standard in the nonprofit industry. Board members can support your organization’s grant application efforts by confidently eliminating this short hurdle for your grant writer. You don’t want to be ineligible for an exciting grant because of a no-brainer like 100 percent board giving.
Disadvantages of Board Giving Minimums
There are plenty of reasons why some nonprofits remain wary of board giving minimums. Read on to see if any of these disadvantages resonate with you and your organization’s mission.
Eliminates Qualified Board Members
Diversity within your nonprofit board ranks as more than a buzzword for effective organizations. Intentionally building a leadership group featuring individuals with different perspectives will help you build a nonprofit that truly addresses the complex needs of its community.
Removing a board giving minimum frees an organization to welcoming the largest pool of potential board members. Board minimums often eliminate potential board members among low-income earners, students and young adults, and historically marginalized groups in general.
A board giving minimum may elevate the importance of a financial contribution at the expense of other ways to give. Some board members may be able to contribute significantly as a volunteer or advocate instead of giving money. Consider if your organization values these gifts at the same level as a financial one.
Disconnected from Nonprofit’s Values
Board giving minimums may come into conflict with the values of your organization. So many nonprofits focus on missions that may seem dissonant with the idea that its leadership group must pay a fee to remain a member.
The answer to the question is unique to each organization. Be sure to reflect carefully on the idea of board giving minimums and how the concept meshes with your mission.
Board support ranks as one of the most crucial sources of philanthropic gifts for your organization. Not only is this a potentially large source of donations, your board members serve as powerful advocates for your mission.
So do you set a minimum giving level for your board? Deeply consider your community and pool of potential board members to see if this idea makes sense for your volunteers and your mission.
Still on the fence on board giving minimums? Consider a board mentors program to explore another innovative way to establish a strong and diverse board.