Should Board Members be Required to Personally Give?

By Jane Page-Steiner

One of the questions I hear regularly from Board Chairs and Executive Directors is “Should all of our board members be required to personally give?” Some nonprofit leaders share that they feel conflicted about this issue as many of their board members are already giving so much of their time and talents that they wonder if it is too much to also ask board members to financially give. I counter that a financial gift is another means for board members to demonstrate their commitment to your organization. Your board members are your best champions and should be leading the way for the rest of the community as to why it is important to give to your organization. The size of the gift is not always as relevant as your board members understanding that financially supporting your organization is a part of their role as a board member.

The BoardSource Leading with Intent: 2017 National Index of Nonprofit Practices found that 59% of boards require board members to make a personal contribution. How this is interpreted varies within each organization. Some boards have a minimum amount that board members need to give – while this may work for some organizations some believe a required minimum amount may limit giving from those who are capable of giving more. One common practice is to require board members to give a donation that is a meaningful gift for them. This allows the flexibility of having board members with various income levels the opportunity to serve on your board and support your organization. Whatever your current practice is – securing resources and/or fundraising is recognized as one of the responsibilities of a nonprofit board.

How do change your board’s culture to be one where all board members personally give an annual gift?

At your next board retreat openly discuss with your board what they feel should be the requirement for board giving and why personally giving is important.

Offer your board members a variety of ways to give to your organization – everyone is different and some may prefer to give annually some may prefer to give a small amount monthly.

Regularly share program outcomes and stories from your clients so they understand how the money they donate directly impacts your work and mission.

Clearly communicate with current members and potential board members the giving requirement and fundraising expectations.

Setting the goal of 100% of giving from your board is a wonderful way to set high expectation for your board and it demonstrates to the community your board’s allegiance to your organization.

Jane Page-Steiner, President of JPS Nonprofit Strategies

Jane is a BoardSource Certified Governance Trainer. Jane can help your organization with planning and board development. Contact Jane at or call 859-261-4145.