The Uneven Field of Board Giving

By Laurence A. Pagnoni, MPA

Have you ever had a board member suggest to the whole board that they each chip in a set amount? Did you cringe knowing that some are capable of giving more than others? The board member might say, “Let’s each pledge $10,000!” But you know that there are board members who could give $25,000! What did you do?

This has happened to me many times in my fundraising career. The first time I didn’t respond but instead met with each board member privately. Yet most of the high-level givers still made the smaller gift. I was able to salvage one board member. When he handed me the check for the smaller amount, I asked him if he could pledge the same amount every six months, and he agreed. When it happened the second time, at a different organization, I was more prepared. I simply said: “Your enthusiasm is contagious, and it pleases me greatly that you care that much to give what for you is a significant gift. Thank you. However, because we all don’t give the same amount, but give at higher or lower levels based on our means, circumstances, and ability, it would be more beneficial for our campaign to allow me to speak privately with each of you after this meeting. Then, at our next meeting, I can report back to you on the collective board giving.” I then turned to the board chairperson and asked, “Don’t you agree, Ruth?” And thankfully, she did!

Despite all their governance hats, a board is also a group of donors. It was good for me to free myself from their board member status (and the assumption that I have to treat them gingerly) and ask myself how I would handle any group of donors in a similar situation. My answer was to take action to correct the misconception that all donors behave the same way and give the same way.  Overall these types of “surprises” happen when not enough preparation work is done before the board meeting. Poorly prepared board meetings are the bane of nonprofit performance.

We welcome your comments about this post on the LAPA blog.

Subscribe
Notify of
guest
0 Comments
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

Related Posts

Giving Tuesday

Giving Tuesday

GivingTuesday 2022 is coming up, Tuesday, November 29th, and it’s a banner day for many nonprofits. Some use it to launch their year-end campaign. No other day creates the same worldwide feeling of philanthropy and good will. Often stylized as #GivingTuesday for the purposes of hashtag activism, GivingTuesday occurs on the Tuesday after Thanksgiving in the United States. It’s touted as a “global generosity movement unleashing the power of people and organizations to transform their communities and the world.” Perhaps these LAPA blog resources will help you harness the power of GivingTuesday: GivingTuesday: You Have A Decision To Make Countdown

Read More »
Giving

Year-End Giving

Year-End Giving
You never hear people say, “I know when I am.”  But it’s often useful to know where you stand in a temporal sense.  From a fundraiser’s point of view, it’s important to know where you are timewise  when we approach the end of the year.  One of out of every three dollars contributed to nonprofit organizations is donated in the month of December alone!

Read More »

Donors Drop By 7% But Dollars Up 6.2%, Buoyed By Major Donors

U.S. charitable giving increased significantly in Q2 2022, but gains were accompanied by a continuing steep decline in donor acquisition and retention, particularly among new and newly retained donors, according to the Fundraising Effectiveness Project’s (FEP) Second Quarter Fundraising Report. The Fundraising Effectiveness Project (FEP) is a collaboration among fundraising data providers, researchers, analysts, associations, and consultants to empower the sector to track and evaluate trends in giving. The project offers one of the only views of the current year’s fundraising data in aggregate to provide the most recent trends for guiding nonprofit fundraising and donor engagement. The FEP releases

Read More »