Institute for Charitable Giving

blue rule

When a Board Member Resists Giving or Asking. Part I

blue rule

“He shook his finger at me. It was obvious this was a topic he felt keenly about.

“I’d go on to the next one. That’s what I’d do.” That is C. Allen Favrot speaking. And Allen knows what he’s talking about. He’s a great community leader, a volunteer of monumental proportions.What prompted Allen’s comment was when I asked him what his reaction would be if he spoke to a person about serving on a board and the man or woman said: “I’ll join the board, but you can’t count on me for a gift and I won’t call on anyone.”“Allen,” I asked, “what would you do?”…..jerold panas

A number of years ago, I was invited to address a community fundraising group of twenty-five. The group represented about twenty local nonprofit organizations of varying size. They asked that I present a ninety-minute session on the role of the board with a focus on how to increase board member “giving and getting.”

After the presentation, I was approached by two wonderful ladies who stayed behind to ask a couple of questions. They were the President and Vice President of the Board of Directors of a local animal welfare group.  They told me that the presentation had revealed some of the problems they had with their board.

They noted the Board was compromised of all older women, “many of who knit during the meeting.” Further they noted: “They don’t give. Our fundraising is done essentially by our two development officers.”  They asked: “What should we do? What can we do?”

After spending time with them, and a select number of Board members, I outlined an action plan that included what I hoped would be remedies. It began with the recommendation they meet with each Board member to discuss the organization’s mission and vision for the future and how vital they are in “changing and saving lives.”

After a couple of weeks of working with the two Board leaders and staff, they were ready. Just over two weeks later, I received a call to meet with them. I agreed and asked: “How should I prepare? Anything special?”

“Well,” came the response: “We met with each board member individually. They seemed very pleased with what we outlined.”  I thought, “great.” Then came:  “Every member of the board resigned. We need a different plan!”

What I learned had a profound effect on me, though the board leadership didn’t seem surprised by the resignations. I kept thinking of the Will Rogers quote: “It ain’t what you don’t know that gets you into trouble, it’s what you think you know that just ain’t so.”

What I learned is the ultimate success of your organization depends on the composition, commitment, and actions of your Board.  Board members should, in addition to giving themselves, be willing and able to use their influence to bring the financial resources of others to your organization.

As I said to the aforementioned animal welfare organization, and would say to any organization for that matter, if you hope to build a more productive, comprehensive development program, it begins with Board members’ enthusiastic acceptance of their role in philanthropy.

And finally, having the right board members will, in the end, help your institution resonate with service and overflow with activities. The proper board sustains your mission and ensures your future. Your board members just need to be reminded that their major responsibility is to make certain that your organization has the proper funding. Money makes it happen.

In 2018, Brian Saber, President of Asking Matters, conducted five days of interviews with Jerry Panas. The conversations were wide
ranging focused on many of the subjects Jerry wrote about or spoke about, especially about boards.

Brian Saber is a sought-after trainer, coach, and consultant. His interview style enables him to engage the interviewee in ways that are informative, entertaining, and productive.

– Jerry A. Linzy 
Executive Partner,Emeritus
Jerold Panas, Linzy & Partners



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