The Goldie Company

Charitable Board Governance: A Culture of Doing

Tuesday February 14, 2012

Your nonprofit board has reached a watershed in its evolution and development. So how can you get to the next level, where every board member becomes a contributing member to your organization’s finances?

Your board must now be proactive and turn its attention to one of its most important responsibilities – raising funds.

It is vitally important that board members get recruited for their fundraising capacity and managerial expertise—not only to fill a spot or reward past volunteer endeavours. Create several committees in your organization to divide fundraising responsibilities among all board members. These may include the following:

  1. Executive Committee
  2. Fund Development Committee
  3. Special Events Committee
  4. Planned Giving Committee
  5. Donor Stewardship Committee
  6. Audit Committee

It is vital to the long-term success and growth of your organization that every Board member be involved, without exception, with at least one committee directly involved with fundraising.

Why should board members be involved? The targets of the annual program will not be reached if only volunteers act as advocates of your organization. Board members must partner directly with staff and accept specific tasks that move each of the programs forward in a measurable way. This creates an active board culture of doing rather than a culture of approving.

In fact, all Board members should be expected and encouraged to financially support the organization they serve. This should not be an assumption, but an explicit expectation, structurally reinforced. Include board member financial support into your organization’s Policy and Procedures Manual, with language that emphasizes this role:

“Board members must seriously consider their own financial commitment to the organization. The participation of Board members is an essential ingredient in any fundraising effort as it speaks to the commitment, credibility and dedication of the Board. It is expected that there is 100% participation from the Board each year. When evaluating charitable giving, Board members should consider making the organization one of their three highest priorities.”

This fundamental principle of Charitable Board Governance must be made perfectly clear when recruiting new board members. If this priority is understood from the beginning, only people who are willing to actively engage for an organization’s stewardship will be willing to serve in a board position. Once the structural components and the board expectations are overtly communicated and put in place, an organization will find it far easier to realize its goals and fulfill its mission.

It is a tried and true axiom that board members of a charitable organization should represent the “Three T’s” – Time, Treasury & Talent.

By Douglas E. Newton