Should Board Members “Give and Get”?

Earlier today a subscriber to the Briefing wrote me with this question: “Should board members be expected to ‘give and get?’  From last night’s Weekend Briefing, I’m not sure about your thoughts on this.   We have new leadership on our board and trying to get our board more engaged in fundraising.  Everyone I know at other nonprofits tells me ‘give and get’ is a must.

“What do you think?”

That’s actually a very good question.  Here are a few things to consider.

If you have a specific number for both “give” and “get” you may miss out on a board member who can do more. It is sad to me that many board members really don’t want to do either one, give or get, and so the organization feels it has to make that expectation. Indeed, most do.

This is just me talking; if I were a new board member, would I feel that “give and get” were demands?  How would I feel about that?  Reference the point I made last night about organizations feeling “entitled.”  

Bottom line, during the “courtship” period, the organization has to make clear that every board member “gives and gets” as best they can.  I know one organization that says, “We hope you will consider us one of your top three charities during the time you are on our board, whatever that means to you.”

I know other organizations where each new board member serves a first term on the board of one year, so that if things don’t work out, there is an easy way to move them off the board.

Every board member must give and get (aka, open a door every now and then) as best they can.

I guess you are seeing my hopeful, optimistic side in not making that sound like a demand. An honest conversation among board members can often determine what it all should mean for you.

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