Today’s question comes from Lisa who asks:
What is the most successful model for the board give or get policy? How do you set the amount? Is it: ‘Give until it hurts?’ And how do you reinforce the policy you set?
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Great questions, Lisa!
As you know, give and get refers to how much board members are expected to give as part of their service on their board — and of course, the “get” part refers to how much they help raise.
I want to be clear that the expression used to be “give OR get”, but for many years now, we’ve been talking about give “and” get, because it’s not an either/or proposition. Board members need to make a personal gift as well as help with fundraising, not one or the other.
Should you set a Minimum Requirement?
I’ve recently had a change of heart on the subject of having a set minimum requirement for board members.
I used to feel that it was better not to have a set amount, because I felt that I enabled some board members to give less than they could, while at the same time discouraged capable people from being board members if they could not meet the minimum gift level.
That being said, I’ve recently come to the conclusion that organization do better when they have a set minimum, as long as it’s not too low. I think it tends to raise the sights of the entire board and creates a standard.
So, I strongly encourage you to set a minimum level of board giving, and then expect them to raise funds on top of that as well. This will help with accountability, and changing the culture of your board.
However, I also believe that every rule is made to be broken, so if you have an amazing person on your board, who can’t personally financially give the minimum amount, you’ll want to make a private exception for them.
The important thing is that everyone gives and gets!
Giving Should Never “Hurt”
On a somewhat unrelated note, when Lisa asked the question, she used the phrase, “give until it hurts”, and I want you to really think about what that phrase means for a minute and then banish it from your vocabulary forever!
Using the words “giving” and “hurt” in the same sentence does exactly the opposite of what we want to do at our organizations — which is associate giving with joy and pleasure.
In fact, as a professional fundraiser, I never want giving to hurt, but to bring pleasure to people who are fortunate enough to be in a position to help others. If we are going to change the culture at our organizations and of fundraising and giving in general, we need to change the language we use.
Reinforcing Your Give and Get Policy
In order to reinforce the policy and hold people accountable, I like to use a one-page board member expectation form, which can be the starting point for an annual meeting between the board president and each board member to review their roles and responsibilities.
Do you have a give and get policy at your organization? What’s worked for you and what hasn’t? Share your comment below.
This post is part of my Year of the Fundraising Board series. Check out the entire series to learn how to create a stronger, smarter, and super motivated nonprofit board.