What are the Ways Board Members Can Give?

Feb 22, 2021

Board members can give in various ways, and I don’t mean giving their time or talent instead of money! They should be giving all three. Your board job descriptions should reflect your expectations regarding the amount of time board members should be giving.

You should be seeking the talents you need when recruiting new board members. But this article is about board giving. So, for this discussion, let’s just talk about board members giving their treasure!

As with any donor, there are always options. Some of the options you can consider include cash, pledges, matching gifts, monthly giving, planned giving, gifts in kind, and sponsorships. You might want to consider a combination of some of these options. Providing board members with options makes it easier for them to give at more meaningful levels.

Let’s talk about these options.


 We all want gifts of unrestricted cash, of course. This is usually offered during the annual board appeal, which is covered in my book, CharityChannel’s Quick Guide to Board Giving. If you are a membership organization, you may require board members to be members at a certain level. If you do require membership, be sure not to accept a $35 (or whatever amount it is) membership as fulfilling a board member’s obligation.

Using the approach of asking them to make your organization a top charitable priority will help guide each board member to an amount that is appropriate for them.

 Monthly Giving

 For many board members who want to make a significant gift but are not in the position to write out a large check once a year, monthly giving is the perfect answer. And often we can get board members to stretch beyond what they would give as a one-time gift. Since most people like to deal in round numbers, think about this approach. The example below shows you how you can invite board members to stretch their gifts through monthly giving.


Annual Gift Expectation Monthly Giving Ask Total Annual Giving
$500 $50 $600
$1,000 $100 $1,200
$1,500 $150 $1,800
$2,500 $250 $3,000
$5,000 $500 $6,000

Now, wasn’t that easy?


Like monthly giving, pledging allows board members to spread out their gifts over an entire year, but some might prefer quarterly or semiannual payments, perhaps to coincide with stock dividend checks or other income they receive at specific time periods. Therefore, personalizing your approach to board members is always more effective than soliciting them as a group. You can ask them what the best payment method for them is.

During a capital campaign, of course, most donors, including board members, will be invited to give a three-year or five-year pledge. You probably will not want to use this method for annual gifts because it diminishes the annual fund effort and you lose the opportunity to ask for increased gifts when it is appropriate to do so. Annual gifts are most often expected to be paid within the year.

Matching Gifts

 Don’t forget that many of your board members may work for companies that match their gifts or perhaps have a spouse or partner who works for a company with a matching gift program. In this case, make sure the gift comes in both names, so the spouse/partner can apply for matching gift from the employer. Matching gifts can often double the amount of the gift, and although the company is credited for the contribution, the board member should receive “soft credit.”

Planned Giving

 If you have a planned giving program, be sure to invite your board members to take part

and perhaps run a seminar for them to show how they can do a bequest or other planned gift. And, if you’re just starting or thinking about starting a planned giving program, make sure the board is approached first. Again, it shows the credibility and dedication of the board members when they set the example for others.

 Gifts in Kind

In some cases, gifts in kind may be an option for board members who are business owners. A printer, graphic designer, owner of a computer or office furnishing store, etc., may be willing to donate services or products. But as with cash gifts, only a business owner’s gift will count as a gift from the board member because it is coming out of the owner’s pocket. This is where you can go wrong with the “give or get” policy. A board member might secure a gift of cash or gift-in-kind from a business that employs the board member, but that is not the same as a gift from an owner. The vice president of the bank is not doing anything by fulfilling the obligation to give or get by securing a $10,000 gift from the bank. Likewise, the person who works in the computer store has not made a personal donation by getting the boss to donate ten new computers. And of course, gifts in kind need to be something you need and plan to buy, not something the board member just wants to get rid of.

The question to be asked before accepting a gift-in-kind from board members or others should always be, “Does this meet our gift acceptance policy and it does it positively affect our budget?”


 Sponsorships also are only credited to the board member if it is money personally donated. However, many board members, such as a physician in private practice may purchase a table at the gala in the name of the practice rather than the physician’s personal name. A vice president of a local company is not personally donating by getting the company to sponsor a hole at the golf tournament unless the person is an owner of the company. Be careful not to promote sponsorship of events only. Many board members joined your board because they have a strong passion for your mission. Why not ask them to sponsor a program, a lecture series, an exhibit in your museum, or a family going through your program?

If you want to learn more about building your board and getting them to give, take my course, Build a Great Board, Sign up here

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