Why Won’t My Board Members Give?

The Board President stands up at the board meeting and announces that giving to camp is important, and everyone on the board is expected to make a donation. Only 25% of the board responds. One board member who could afford to give very generously makes a small donation.  


It shouldn’t be. No one likes to be treated like an ATM.  

Your board members do not like to be treated like a lump of people, made to sit through announcements. They want to be treated as individuals. They want to be personally asked.
And they would greatly appreciate it if you would suggest a donation amount that they might consider. 

Your wealthy board members are not mind readers. They don’t know how much you are expecting from them. You need to name an amount or a range of options. Or place the gift in context with other gifts. 

Therefore, here are my recommendations: 
  1. Personally ask each and every board member to make a personally meaningful donation to camp each year. 
  2. Board members should be invited to make this organization among the top three or four organizations they support charitably during the years that they are serving on the board. This level of giving reflects their commitment to serving at the highest level of leadership.  
  3. Encourage board members to set up their annual donation as a recurring gift. 
  4. Remind each board member that 100% participation is critical for obtaining grant and foundation support. 
And one final note:
  1. Train and support peer board members to ask other board members for their donation. A friendly ask coming from a board member is more personal than one coming from the Camp Director or the Camp’s development director - those asks can feel self-serving.  
Bottom line: the reason why your board doesn’t give is that they have not been personally asked. 

Written by Julia Riseman. Julia is a Mentor with JCamp 180. Julia leads Data2Donors, a program to advance Alumni Outreach, improve camp databases, and raise more major gifts, and Fundraising Fundamentals. Julia has also sparked the creation of many JCamp 180 programs and offerings, including this blog.

Who we are: JCamp 180 is a program of the Harold Grinspoon Foundation (HGF). Our goal is to significantly enhance the long-term effectiveness of nonprofit Jewish camps in North America. To meet this goal, we provide affiliated Jewish camps with consulting services, annual conferences, shared resources, professional development, and matching grant opportunities. Find more at