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100% Board Giving: Why You Need it and How to Get it

100% Board Giving: Why You Need it and How to Get it

One of the most important ways your Board can support your nonprofit is by making a personal, financial contribution to your nonprofit.


When every single Board member gives, you reach what’s called 100% Board giving and it’s important for several reasons:  

  • Grant funders want to know that Board members aren’t just seat holders, but passionate enough about the cause to put their financial resources behind it. 
  • Savvy major donors will want to know that Board members are committed enough to make a large personal contribution. 
  • Board giving sets the stage for annual giving and capital campaigns. 
  • Board giving shows YOU that they are in this with you, as partners. 

As leaders of your organization, Board members should be the FIRST ones to make a donation. 

Yet some don’t. 

Why is that? 

Why don’t they want to financially support the organization they serve on the Board of? 

Some think they give their time and that’s enough. Others think if the company they work for makes a donation, then they don’t need to give. 

But it’s important that the donation comes from them personally – not their business or their civic club. 

Those donations are important, too. But you need Board members to have a personal stake in the success of your organization and that starts with financial stability. 

How to Get 100% Board Giving

So, how do you get 100% of your nonprofit Board members to give? What does a successful Board giving campaign look like? 

It takes a purposeful effort on your part with a little education to remind Board members that they need to give. They probably won’t remember it on their own, so they’ll need your help remembering their responsibility and knowing how you’d like them to give. 

There are two main things you need to do: 

1. Set the Expectation During Recruitment

Start new Board members off on the right foot by making personal giving a part of the recruitment conversation. Set the expectation as you’re talking with them about the possibility of their joining your Board. If they push back on this or have an excuse for why they can’t give, you may not want them on your Board. Just saying. 

It’s best if you put this expectation in writing so they have it to refer back to later. You can either make this part of your Board handbook if you have one or simply give them a one-sheet document with a list of the expectations you have for your Board. Have them sign it to give them the chance to document their commitment. 

2. Run a Board Giving Campaign Every January

To get 100% of your nonprofit’s Board members to give every year, you have to ask them. Most of them won’t remember that they’re supposed to give or they’ll be busy with their lives and forget that they didn’t give yet this year. So, make a short Board campaign part of your activities in January each year to make it easier for them and for you. 

To make the campaign successful, be ready with: 

  • Start date and end date for the campaign (no longer than 60 days – the shorter the better). People work well with deadlines and this will help wrap up the campaign quickly. 
  • Pledge/Gift form. Give them a pledge card so they can make their pledge for the year and either pay it now or pay part of it now and the rest later in the year. By putting it in writing, it makes it more real. Give the Board member a copy to keep and you keep a copy, too. 
  • Time for follow up. As crappy as it is, you’ll probably have to make phone calls to several of your Board members to remind them it’s time to give. Being prepared for this up front can ease your frustration a bit. 
  • Directions for giving. Be really clear with your Board about HOW they should give. Do you want them to give online or hand you a check? Is it okay if they sponsor a table at your event for their Board gift? 

Once you have your Board campaign figured out and the materials ready, kick off your campaign each January with these steps: 

  1. Verbally announce the campaign at the January Board meeting. Remind them that it’s time for their annual gift and give them a pledge form for the year. Talking about it at the Board meeting also gets it in the meeting minutes which can be a good reminder for those who read the minutes. 
  2. Send a follow up email after the meeting, reminding them it’s time for their commitment. Reiterate what you said at the meeting. Attach a copy of the pledge/gift form and remind them of the deadline to give.
  3. Make follow up calls about halfway through the campaign to remind those who haven’t given yet that they need to act soon. 
  4. Send a final reminder email the day before the deadline, reminding them of the deadline. 
  5. Call in reinforcements as needed. If you have a straggler or two who didn’t respond at all during the campaign, get your Board chair or other Board leader involved. Sometimes, a peer-to-peer call can get the results you’re looking for. If the person STILL doesn’t respond, it’s time to gracefully remove them from your Board. 
Handling Issues and Resistance

Occasionally, you may run into issues trying to get 100% Board giving. 

The main thing is to try not to get frustrated. Once you do, it’s hard to think positively or be supportive as you try to reach your goal. 

Remember that each person on your Board is an individual and has their own situation. Everyone has a different ability to give and some people’s ability changes from year to year based on their income.  Whether they choose to give or not to give is really about them. Your job is to support them to do what you’ve asked them to do.  

What do you do if someone’s seat on the Board is because their employer makes a large donation? Or if they are appointed? Do they still need to give personally? 

The simple answer to that is yes. Here’s a story from Dawn Owens to illustrate: 

“I had a situation where a local bank invested in our cause early in our organization’s history and the bank president who was most passionate about us didn’t have time to sit on our board. However, he assigned another member of the leadership team to sit on the board. 

I asked the bank president to communicate to the selected leader that with their appointment came the requirement of a personal gift no matter the size. I also made it my goal to educate the appointed individual, and he became so passionate about our cause he was excited to support the mission financially.”  

How about if a Board member has provided an in-kind gift or is offering free office space or printing services? Do they need to give personally as well? 

I think you already are guessing the answer, but here it is anyway: yes. 

Those donations are very helpful to the success of the organization. However, in order to ensure 100% Board Giving, every Board member must give a personal financial gift. While their gift of materials or free services is valuable, it just isn’t the same as giving money. They need to make a monetary donation too, though it can be modest.  

What about apathetic Board members who don’t respond to your request? 

Well, it may be that your Board is in need of some training to better understand their roles and responsibilities. Or maybe they need a first-hand experience with your nonprofit’s programs to really understand how their donation will be used. 

Or maybe you have some people on your Board who don’t need to be on your Board right now. It might be time to ‘bless and release’ them so you don’t have to keep dragging them around. 

Can their gift be monthly or does it need to be paid all at once? 

This is really up to you and your Board and can be a great conversation for an upcoming Board meeting. They all need to give but how they do that may be different depending on each person’s circumstance and on your need for cash. 

This is why a campaign in January can be helpful. If someone commits to $1,000 for the year, but wants to make monthly payments of $83.33, you need to decide ahead of time if that is acceptable. 


It can take a little time and effort to get 100% Board Giving set up for your nonprofit, but when you do, it becomes part of your organization’s culture. And trust me, next year will be easier! By having a well thought-out process and making your Board giving campaign part of your annual fundraising plan, you can reach your goal of receiving personal, financial donations from every single one of your Board members every year. 

About the Author: Sandy ReesSandy Rees

Sandy shows founders and leaders of small nonprofits how to fully fund their big vision so they can spend their time changing lives instead of worrying about money. She has helped dozens of small nonprofits go from “nickel-and-dime fundraising” to mastering donor-based fundraising, inspiring their donors to give often and give big. Learn how to raise the money you need to fund your new nonprofit without begging, doing without, or paying out of your own pocket.

Click here to learn more about Get Fully Funded.

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Sandy Rees is the founder of Get Fully Funded where she shows nonprofit founders how to fully fund their big vision so they can spend their time changing lives instead of worrying about money. She has helped hundreds of new nonprofits go from “nickel-and-dime fundraising” to adding 6 figures to their bottom line. As a trainer, she shows her students how to find ideal donors, connect through authentic messaging, and build relationships that stand the test of time, so that fundraising becomes easy and predictable. Grab her latest ebook “Fund Your Dream” at

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