Connections for Success



Should Board Members be Required to Make Donations to the Organizations They Serve?

One of the toughest challenges many organizations face is recruiting board members. You may think that one of the barriers to recruiting someone to join your board is that they will feel obligated to make a financial donation. However, if the person cares about your organization, this probably will not be a significant barrier. It is far more likely that someone would be reluctant to join out of concern about the time required or because they are simply not passionate about what you do (in which case they may not be a good fit for your board to begin with).

Requiring board contributions demonstrates a level of commitment to your organization and sends a message to the staff that the board cares about the organization. Of course, you do not want to make the required contribution level onerous. In determining the required level of contribution, you should consider the needs of the organization, the size of the board, and your general knowledge about what would be reasonable for your board members. For example, an arts organization serving an affluent community is likely to set a higher level of required board contribution than an agency serving a low income area when both organizations are recruiting board members from the populations they serve.

You can also be creative in how you allow board members to meet their requirement. For example, many organizations use a “give or get” model. Let’s say the organization requires board members to raise $1,000 per person per year. The members can fulfill this requirement by either donating $1,000, raising $1,000 among other people they know, donating services that the organization would otherwise have to pay for worth $1,000, or any combination of these. This allows someone who either cannot or does not want to personally contribute money to still fulfill the requirement and serve on your board.

Of course, there may be circumstances where you do not want to require board contributions. But generally speaking, someone who is interested in joining your board wants to see your organization succeed and is therefore most likely inclined to contribute anyway. Requiring the board to either directly donate or raise funds will help to make them more connected to the organization while bolstering your finances, both of which can only make the organization stronger.

For questions about this blog or recruiting new board members for your organization, contact Larry Sophian at 312.670.7444. Visit to learn more about our Not-For-Profit Group.

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