Non Profit Board Members Are Key
Volunteers as Donors
Many times donors volunteer within the organizations they support. Sometimes they volunteer before becoming donors, and at other times they become donors and then subsequently want to become more involved with the organization. Many organizations strategically involve volunteers because they know that when a volunteer becomes involved, they are 10 times more likely to make a donation.
Keep in mind that non-profit organizations operate on the premise that all of the profits of the organization are fed back into the mission. No one person or entity profits from any revenue streams generated by the organization.
It’s imperative to remember, for the integrity of your organization and for the integrity of the non-profit world at large, that organizations should not even appear to reward donors with board seats, special volunteer positions, or other rewards for supporting an organization. This does not include special donor recognition levels, or appreciations, that all donors may enjoy based on their levels of support. That’s not what we’re talking about here. Many times a donor may volunteer to chair or sponsor an event and then challenge his or her peers to match their support. That’s not what we are talking about here either. What we are speaking of is if the donor receives some type of benefit, service, or gain – solely because they gave a donation. In that case, it’s not a donation. It may be a sponsorship or other type of support, but it’s not a donation.
Board Members As Donors
In the for profit world it may not be unusual to have a pay for play arrangement. In the non profit world, that concept should not apply. A donor should not expect to be rewarded with a board position just because he or she has made a large donation. This doesn’t mean that a large donor won’t end up being on the board of an organization. An organization may strategically want to have certain members of the community on its board because of the connections and skills that the potential board member brings to the table, AND a donor’s past and present philanthropic ability. Once becoming a board member, the organization should have a requirement that all board members support the organization at a certain level.
Any organization that is approached by a donor who wants to give a donation solely for the purposes of getting on to the board should proceed with much caution, and consider that this control tactic may not end with this first request.
Motive For Board Membership
Whether your non-profit is a church, youth agency, or other social service agency, it’s important to know what types of board members you need to move the organization forward. It’s helpful for existing board members and the senior executive to complete a board matrix that will enable all of the stakeholders to see the skills and talents already represented on the board , and those that are lacking. Completing such an exercise provides the ability to see the critical skills the agency needs. Further, completion of the matrix will give your nominating committee a map of sorts. With this tool the agency can enjoy a much more strategically targeted process, rather than accepting someone as a board member because you have to fill the seats.
Want to know more about the ideas presented here, or need to have an idea session to generate ways that your small to medium sized organization can find board members? Contact JDHouseSpeaks@gmail.com for an idea session focused on helping you find a unique approach to a common issue.
The Board Vetting Process is Key
Everyone who volunteers to serve on a board does so with motives and expectations. Knowing what those motives and expectations are before board members sign on, as much as is possible, will make for a much more fruitful and productive relationship. Not knowing could lead to board members who are not good community advocates, and not engaged with the work of the board. A vetting process that allows your organization to get to know the prospective board member and for the prospective board member to get to know your agency and your agency’s expectations can ferret out whether this would be a good match for all parties concerned.
Donors Get Satisfaction
Donors get the satisfaction of knowing that they are providing support to a worthwhile organization that is making a difference in the world. Donors also get thanked and appreciated by the non-profits they support. Donors get recognized for the gifts they give and that recognition can be any number of ways. The best way to recognize a donor is to discuss with them how they want the gift to be recognized. They can also get a tax deduction for making a donation to a non-profit. What they don’t get are promises of volunteer positions, board seats, or other personal benefits just because they made a donation.
What are your thoughts? Do you think donors should demand or be rewarded with a seat on the board just because they made a donation? Why or why not?
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