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FAQs From Business Executives Re: Financial Giving to Nonprofit Boards – Part I

“How much will be expected of me financially?” asked Greg. I was interviewing him in preparation for a national board training session for business executives who would be joining nonprofit boards. Here’s my response to Greg in addition to 4 more FAQs that business people ask me related to contributions and fundraising. Look for Part II next week for the remaining FAQs on this topic. 1. What does “give/get” mean? The “give/get” is the combination of what you contribute financially and what you fundraise from others.

“How much will be expected of me financially?” asked Greg. I was interviewing him in preparation for a national board training session for business executives who would be joining nonprofit boards.

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Here’s my response to Greg in addition to 4 more FAQs that business people ask me related to contributions and fundraising. Look for Part II next week for the remaining FAQs on this topic.

1. What does “give/get” mean?

The “give/get” is the combination of what you contribute financially and what you fundraise from others.

2. What’s an appropriate give/get for most boards?

The amount varies widely from one board to the next. It can be $1,000 on a small neighborhood organization to millions of dollars for some of the most prominent boards, such as cultural institutions, and some of the largest, such as healthcare and education. And although the largest institutions in the US account for over 80% of nonprofit expenditures, they constitute fewer than 4% of the nation’s nonprofits. The vast majority of nonprofits have budgets under $10 million.

For nonprofits with budgets between $1 million to $10 million, the give/get is often in the range of $5,000 – $15,000, with some board members choosing to do more. Some boards set a minimum give/get, while others will give you a range.

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3. When should I find out about the board’s financial expectations of me?

Have a candid conversation with the nonprofit’s chief executive about the give/get before you are nominated for election. Ideally, I recommend that you have a discussion about financial expectations in one of your first meetings; if it’s not a fit, it’s best for both of you to know this early on. Be sure that the financial expectation you hear is all-inclusive for what your company might be asked to give, galas, golf outings, in-kind goods and services, etc. (more about these matters in Part II, next week)

4. Do they just want my money?

I won’t kid you. Money matters. Depending on the organization’s revenue model, money helps most nonprofits to do more. Additionally, outside funders are often more likely to fund nonprofits whose board members are financially supportive.

At the same time, a nonprofit board and CEO who are strategic will also recognize the value of your expertise to help them to envision the organization’s greater potential, establish an effective strategy and robust revenue model, and maximize the nonprofit’s success in serving the community. For a vital organization, the nonprofit’s leadership should want people with a diversity of perspectives, experiences, and networks.

A vibrant board also includes individuals with experience in the nonprofit’s area of work–education, housing, urban development, water, poverty, and so on. Although issue experts might not always have the same capacity for giving, they provide expertise for board strategy discussions and enhance the organization’s credibility, integrity, and stature.

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5. Other than giving and getting, what’s the most valuable thing that I can do to help an organization to serve the community better?

It depends on the organization, what they need, and what you have to offer. This is part of the conversation you will have with the chief executive and ideally, the board chair or the chair of the board governance/nominating committee. You might help with strategy, pricing of fees for services, strategic alliances, media relations, legal services, corporate governance, human resources, fundraising, government affairs, finance, building relationships among new networks to further the nonprofit’s understanding of the community and expand the organization’s support and influence, and so on.

Look for “FAQs From Business Executives Re: Giving To Nonprofit Boards – Part II” next week.

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About the author

Korngold provides strategy consulting to global corporations on sustainability, facilitating corporate-nonprofit partnerships, and training and placing hundreds of business executives on NGO/nonprofit boards for 20+ years. She provides strategy and board governance consulting to NGO/nonprofit boards, foundations, and educational and healthcare institutions. Korngold's latest book is "A Better World, Inc.: How Companies Profit by Solving Global Problems…Where Governments Cannot," published by Palgrave Macmillan for release on 1/7/14

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