100% of Board Giving Escapes Over 27% of Nonprofits

Only 73% of nonprofits indicated their Board of Directors are all active donors and give financially every year.

This is according to a OpX360 Executive Study of 155 nonprofits benchmarking their marketing, fundraising, and communication practices suggesting a reluctance of some nonprofits to either fundraise from board members or require board giving. 

BoardSource, another recognized leader in nonprofit board research, found that 68% of nonprofit organizations have a policy requiring board members to make a personal contribution on an annual basis. Boards average 74% participation in giving; however, on average, only 46% of boards had 100% participation. 

Some nonprofits and/or board members even mistakenly believe giving of their time and talent is a sufficient replacement for the giving of their treasure. 

In any case, your nonprofit will suffer if you cannot report consistent 100% board giving. 

The most obvious ways are:

  • Board commitment and support will be uncertain to all interested parties. 
  • Others in the organization will see it as license to not give themselves.
  • Many foundations and larger donors only contribute to nonprofits where every board member is a financial partner. 

A clear awareness of giving expectations should be understood by every board member. This should include each board member signing off on a well-defined, written Personal Giving Policy outlining expectations, why giving is important, giving guidelines, and consequences for noncompliance.  

Don’t have a Personal Giving Policy yet? It’s easy to get started.

Draft a Board Policy

The board should draft a Personal Giving Policy. The Board Chair or Chair of the Philanthropy Committee could enlist a board member known for their sensibility and thoughtfulness to make the case and find a consensus among other board members. 

As this policy touches each board member personally, it is essential to create a rule that is fair and can be easily administered. To avoid any misunderstandings, every board candidate should be introduced to the policy when considering the board position and asked to recommit to the policy annually thereafter.

Define Giving Guidelines

In his seminal work, The Eight Principles of Sustainable Fundraising, author Larry Johnson states that “personal giving need not be – and almost never are – equal.” The key to successful personal giving performance is commensurate giving, that is, “giving by each board member commensurate to his or her giving ability.”

A viable policy could suggest a minimum donation amount and encourage each member to give generously according to his or her means. A board member should further designate the organization as one of the main recipients of his or her philanthropy.

100% Board Giving is Important for Effective Board Governance 

Personal giving is necessary for establishing organizational leadership. One of the responsibilities of the board is to provide sound financial leadership for the organization. 100% of board members should be expected to participate in personal giving as an external expression of their mutual agreement and commitment. 

Others, inside and outside the organization, are looking to the Board of Directors for their conviction and assurance. How better to express this kind of leadership than board members committing their time, talent, and treasure to the organization first?

Staff and volunteers will be more likely to follow leaders who give fully of themselves personally, and financial partners will have more confidence knowing the board is fully invested in the organization.    

In Conclusion

Those who lead nonprofits, particularly board members, must invest in the organizations they serve both from a leadership standpoint as well as financially. This can be accomplished effectively and efficiently with a simple 100% Board Giving Focus and Personal Giving Policy. 

Further, nonprofit executive leadership should consider making 100% Board Giving a Board Development area of measurement and Personal Giving a key part of their overall success metrics and planning.

You should contact your attorney to obtain advice with respect to this or any issue or problem.


Marc is Co-Founder and Principal Advisor of The Center. For the previous 12 years, Marc served full-time as executive and practitioner in three significant yet very different nonprofits, overseeing extensive domestic and international operations.