It’s the most wonderful time of the year… Christmas? Well, yes, but I am talking about end-of-year giving season. End-of-year giving season is upon us. This time of year, nonprofits are looking for funding and ways to engage donors, and nonprofit board members are looking for ways to support the organizations they love. One of those ways is in the form of giving to the organizations they serve. As we approach the end of the calendar year and people are thinking about end-of-year giving, it’s a good time to think about making the “ask” to your board members.

Many boards have give or get policies. At Global Impact, we have a goal of 100% board giving at a level that is “personally significant.” By not dictating a specific dollar amount, we are more inclusive to all prospective board members that may have skills and experience that are beneficial to our organization. Getting to 100% board giving is important because “it is essential that each board member be an active participant in ensuring the financial health of the institution.”

When we hit the 100% goal last year halfway through our fiscal year, it got me thinking … “how did we do that?” In answering that question, I developed three key tips to help you achieve the 100% giving goal and leverage the end-of-year giving push.

  1. Positive peer pressure: I know, I know, peer pressure is supposed to be bad. But it’s not when you use it to show others the good example of their peers. To this end, in each board book we publish two things: a) a chart of progress toward our 100% goal; and b) an indication of which individual board members have given (not including amounts). This allows board members to see if they are listed, serves as a reminder for them to give and acknowledges those who have already given.Additionally, this year, our board has asked us to show their total giving for last year as well as last year’s average gift. I loved having them ask for greater transparency and visibility that may help them increase their gifts to meet or exceed the average. This is just another example of positive peer pressure that can be used to influence your board’s giving behavior.
  2. Make the ask … strategically: Letters are good reminders, but can often get lost in the shuffle or junk mail (electronic or paper). Making the ask in a meeting when board members can see leadership and staff and they are already present and serving the organization is an even more powerful reminder for them to give. We had the chair of our Nominating & Engagement Committee lead that discussion so that it was board-led and not staff-led, which also ties to the positive peer pressure advice above.
  3. Give a deadline: Who doesn’t work better with a deadline? There is so much writing out there on the power of deadlines to boost productivity. I’ll let you in on a little secret (promise not to tell our board?). We have a July 1 to June 30 fiscal year so the end of the calendar year doesn’t really mean a whole lot to us fiscally. However, it’s always good to take advantage of the “giving season” when people are thinking about their charitable donations. Then there is still time to reach the goal in the remainder of the fiscal year if not quite everyone makes it in. However, last year, by following these steps, and giving a deadline in December, we were able to reach our 100% giving goal halfway through our fiscal year!

This year, we made our ask during our October board meeting, giving a December deadline. We followed up with an email in November. We went in to the October meeting with only 11% of board members having given in this fiscal year, and in just three weeks since our ask, we are up to 26%. I’m looking forward to seeing how following these steps for our second year play out. Give them a try yourself, and see how your board steps up!