Give, Get, or Grow a Hero: Toward a New Vision for Your Nonprofit Board

You’ve heard it said that board members should give, get, or get off. What if we, as nonprofit leaders, offered a better, third option?

The expression, of course, means that board member should give their own money, help the nonprofit to get money, or depart the board. I don’t have a problem with the give or get part. It’s the “get off” that always rubs me the wrong way.

Don’t misunderstand my discomfort. Board members must give. Boards need to help get. Everyone that supports a nonprofit must support resource development. (See Fundraising is for Everyone.)

The “get off” irritates because you’re talking about someone you identified as having significant value. To convince this person to serve, you invested considerable time.

“Get Off” Reduces All This Value to One Criteria: Money

Yet money is only one of your nonprofit’s bottom lines. What if, instead of asking board members to leave, we considered individuals, who don’t give or get yet, as works in progress. Suppose this third type of board member reflects a need for corrective action, such as to—

  1. Learn about other members’ activities.

Peer pressure works. By sprucing up my yard, I motivate my neighbors to trim their shrubs and add new plantings. (See Guilty as Charged, Prove Your Board Supports Your Organization.)

  1. Discover how giving improves donor’s lives.

Share facts. Tell donation backstories. Most of us announce: “Tina introduced us to Joe. He donated $50,000.” Next time, tell more. Share how Tina introduced Joe three-years-ago. Review the steps it took to close the gift. Cite the gratitude Joe expressed for the opportunity. Giving is an act of courage; being courageous improves our lives.

  1. Receive invitations to activities they love.

We all want to do more of what we like and less of what we dislike. A board member grudgingly attends a gala alone. She loves to invite likely-to-give couples to your behind the scenes tours. Find out what lights up their eyes.

Is Your Board Vision Big Enough?

Take a moment to evaluate each of your current board members.

  1. Who gives?
  2. Who gets?
  3. Who is not giving-or-getting yet?

For members in the third, update them on their peer’s support. Teach them how giving benefits donor’s lives. Find out what they love. Then, explore ways to shape their giving and getting around those activities. These efforts will bear more fruit then replacing them with new members who might also need to learn how to give or get.

Email me or comment below and let me know how it goes.

It Doesn’t Have to Be Lonely at the Top

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