First Prediction of the New Year: Donors & Your Board

January 2, 2014

boardofdirectorsIt’s going to be a good year.

More than 350 nonprofits serving people, animals and special places in Sarasota, Manatee, Charlotte and DeSoto counties have taken the time to share more about their governance, management, financials, programmatic impact and needs by developing in-depth profiles in The Giving Partner.

What does all of this transparency mean?

It means that donors–those very generous people who care about making the world a better place–have a reliable source for the kinds of information they are increasingly seeking. Greater knowledge of the entire charitable landscape in one place empowers donors. It helps create and maintain trust in nonprofits.

So here is a first prediction of 2014: donors will pay more attention than ever to your board of directors. The board is where the buck stops–it is the guardian of your organization’s mission. A strong board is the foundation for a strong organization.

Here are four governance questions donors will start paying even more attention to this year:

  1. Is the board is active?
    Take a look at your organization’s board meeting attendance rate over the last fiscal year. Is it at least 67%? The average board meeting attendance rate for Giving Partner organizations is 82%. Get that percentage up there to communicate a powerful message: your volunteer leaders are showing up for the job.

  2. Does the board adhere to a conflict of interest policy?
    It is up to each board member to make decisions for the organization based on what she believes is the best decision for the organization–not for herself.  If a personal or professional conflict arises, or the appearance of a conflict arises, she will simply excuse herself from the decision-making process.

  3. Are board members making personal monetary contributions to the organization each year?
    Know that donors and funders really do ask, “If board members aren’t making donations, why should I/we?”  Personal participation in giving by each board member is more important than the amount of the individual gift.

  4. Are multiple family members on the board? Are family members of the executive director on the board? Are board members also acting as paid staff?
    These situations are not regarded as strong governance practices in the nonprofit sector. Remember, safeguarding against a conflict of interest or the appearance of a conflict is very important to ensure the trust of donors and the community.

Answers to each of these questions can be found in the governance section of each nonprofit’s profile online at www.thegivingpartner.org.

The Community Foundation of Sarasota County encourages donors to understand these questions and to use them as conversation points with nonprofits, not as the ultimate deciding factors in choosing whether to support a particular organization.

Enjoy the rest of your week, and let’s make 2014 a great year!

-Susie Bowie
Community Foundation of Sarasota County


One Response to “First Prediction of the New Year: Donors & Your Board”

  1. Michael Doyle Director of Advancement Says:

    This comes at a great time as we kick off a New Year with a clean slate. Thanks so much.

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