Institute for Charitable Giving

blue rule

Three ‘A’s for Your Board

blue rule

You will agree. The board determines your organization’s future. The board is your destiny.

You hope for directors who bring what I call the Three ‘A’s— Affluence, Access, and Advocacy. You don’t elect board members. You select them.

If you have a candidate who fits the requirements, you treat them as you would a major gift donor. Because having the right director is indeed a major gift.

I like presenting them with a Statement of the organization’s vision. In going to a prospective board member, I make the case of why we are considering them to join our board.

I’m finding more and more men and women are asking four questions before being ready to serve on a board. They want to know:

  1. “What do I bring to the table?” Is it knowledge in my field, financial savvy, or something else? Or is it my ability to make a gift?
  2. “How will I know if I’m meeting the necessary objectives of a board member?” They don’t want to just sit on a board and waste time. Board members will stand on tiptoes to meet high objectives.
  3. “What has the board accomplished in the last few years?” They want to know the role of the board and how effective it has been. They don’t want to join if it takes a lot of their time in meetings or retreats without accomplishing a great deal.
  4. “May I talk to three or four current members before I join?” They ask if the board really makes a difference. People are too busy these days to simply take up space. They want to make certain they can make a contribution.

I suggest you prepare a booklet in advance of your meeting with a prospective board member. Much as you would in planning a call on a major gift donor.

For the board member, you describe the vision of the organization. The importance and urgency of its service. And how it is uniquely positioned to touch lives.

You also explain why you have chosen them. Let them know what is expected and the amount of time it will take. Indicate the staff support they will have.

Most of all, let them know the impact they will have on the organization and those you serve.

Having “the right” board member isn’t important. It is everything.


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