So you say you are ready to address the lack of board member giving on your board of directors. You understand what a give/get is now and you are ready to establish the minimum and hold these pompous trouble makers to the fire. Let’s talk about a couple topics to think about before you storm into the board room schooling your board.
Supply & Demand. The concept of supply and demand plays into all of this unfortunately. Economics!!! It’s voodoo witchcraft that even charitable organizations can’t escape! I hear you saying, “but I thought nonprofits weren’t businesses and they shouldn’t be competitive”! You thought wrong regardless of what you have been told. From my experience, the nonprofit industry is the most fiercely competitive industry I’ve ever experienced. They are competitive at the macro level and micro. They are competitive externally with other organizations and internally with each other especially at the board level. Because most nonprofits fill social gaps and are started and fueled by human tragedy, the landscape can be very precarious even dangerous to operate in. With highly limited resources to fill unlimited actual needs, it’s not uncommon for nonprofits to become vulnerable and soft targets for nefarious individuals disguised as volunteers or even employees that will take a lower salary out the kindness of their hearts and the love of the mission (yeah….). They can also be used for criminals, politicians and those just seeking personal gain. You say, “but I get an annual audit every year”. Audits do not eliminate criminal activity. We’ll cover compliance, risk mitigation and systems later.
Five years ago, there were 1.5 million nonprofits in the US according to the National Center for Charitable Statistics. So it shouldn’t be a surprise that there are close to two million board seats open at any given time. That means that the organization’s are at a slight disadvantage when it comes to demanding board members contribute. When an organization requires no give/get or a low give/get minimum, generally a candidate will choose them over the organization that requires a higher minimum give/get. So, yes it’s a competitive industry in the business of serving. How do we address this competitive environment to ensure we have capable and motivated board members on our boards? Glad you ask.