Board giving: Part 1

By Todd Cohen

As it expands its board from 15 members to 25, including some of its clients, the Springfield Citadel of the Salvation Army in Springfield, Mass., plans for the first time to set a specific amount of money, probably $500, that it expects each member to give or raise.

Setting specific goals to replace the implied expectation that board members donate money removes an obstacle to board membership, and helps engage them in the organization, says Maj. Thomas Perks, commanding officer.

“As people make that kind of monetary investment, we also see a rise in their interest or participation in the programs that they are particularly funding,” he says.

While nonprofit executives typically look to their boards to contribute and help raise money, a big gap can separate the way staff and boards view the fundraising role boards should and do play.

“Nonprofit staff often tell us that they wish their board would fundraise more or make personal contributions to the organization, while board members express that they are worried about or uninterested in fundraising and feel that the time they donate as board members is just as important, if not more important, than making a contribution or asking others to do so,” says Joy Folkedal, director of training for BoardSource, a nonprofit in Washington, D.C., that advises nonprofit boards.

That gap in expectations suggests both sides “have missed the point that fundraising requires a partnership between the board and staff, especially in nonprofits where there are professional fundraisers on staff,” she says.

Other stories in series:

Part 2: Staff and boards can view board fundraising role differently.
Part 3: Charities urged to define boards’ development role.

Part 4: Charities offer options for fundraising role boards can play.

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