Getting to 100% Board Giving by Year-End

by Julia Riseman, Mentor, JCamp 180

The percentage of your Board that has made a charitable donation to your camp this year sends a message to the outside world.  Less than 100% is perceived as a sign of Board Leadership problems or worse: a vote of no-confidence in the organization. 

Who is asking if your organization has reached this magic 100% Board giving standard? Our Foundation, JCamp 180, JData, most Federations, grant makers, and increasingly major donors will all ask your camp to report the percentage of Board members who have made a charitable contribution to your camp in the past year.

And since your Board members will be tasked with asking others to support camp, it helps if each of them can state truthfully that they have already given a meaningful gift to camp.

Make obtaining 100% Board giving a goal, and define it as a mini-campaign.

I recommend that you use the calendar year, and not the Camp's fiscal year to finalize a Board giving Campaign.  Most people, including your Board members, think about and finalize their charitable giving at the end of the year.

Here are some ideas for running a Board Giving Campaign from Jan Masaoka. Check out her article for more details about these ideas.

  • The annual basket pass: At the same board meeting each year (Thanksgiving is easy to remember), pass around a basket. The board chair (or fundraising chair) announces: "As this basket goes around, everybody has to put something in it. You can put in a check. You can put in a piece of paper with a pledge amount that you will give by December 15 of this year. Or you can put in a piece of paper that says you've already given this year."
  • Make a donation for them, if they won't: Take a tip from the big arts institutions. If you have three board members who haven't given, have the board chair, fundraising chair, or executive director call them up. "I know you haven't gotten around yet to making your annual donation," you say. "Would you allow me to make a donation in your name?" This always prompts the procrastinator to say, "I'll do it right now!" So finish the call with: "Thank you so much. If we don't get a donation from you within a week, I'll go ahead and make one in your name. I'll be very happy to do that."
  • Give them guidelines: An overlooked reason some board members are reluctant to give is awkwardness about how much to give. They might wonder if their gift will be perceived as too low or too high. Help these folks out with some guidelines without calling them guidelines. Provide examples of both small and large board donations.
  • Put it in their job description: If you have a "board member agreement" or "job description," be sure you have something in it like this: "Each year I'm on the board, I will make a personal financial contribution -- at a level that is meaningful to me -- by Thanksgiving of each year.
  • Put it on their to-do list: At a board meeting, pass out a checklist to each board member so they can check off items they will do. Examples:
    - I will make a personal cash donation of _____ before Thanksgiving.
    - I will sign up to make a monthly donation having my credit card charged automatically.
    - I will help on the following fundraising/community events: Annual Gala / Theatre Party / Street Fair Booth
    - I will make introductions to the following foundations, corporations, or individual donors: ____
    - Etc.

The next time a funder asks you the meaningless question, "Do 100% of your board members give?" answer in an enthusiastic voice, "Almost 100% and we're working on it!" Then pull out this article.

And remember: just like with your other donors, you can only receive a gift from a Board member if they are asked!