A friend wrote, “How do you find board of director openings? What if I am just a lowly nobody? I feel like board members are ‘somebody.’ Rising executives, or people who give lots of money...” I was momentarily floored by this sentiment, but quickly understood her feelings. Here's how I attempted to clear up her perceptions:
My intent here is not to offend. My intent is to preserve. But be forewarned (and please forgive me), I’m going to be plain-spoken and forthright. If you want coddling, you’ll have to find it someplace else.
Since I’ve become somewhat entrenched in the nonprofit sector, it seems I am frequently asked for advice on starting a nonprofit. Ninety-nine times out of a hundred, my first response is: “Don’t.”
Sometimes board service comes with a “required minimum donation.” If you serve on the board, it’s your duty to give or get that stated dollar value for the organization.
I think every board should require its directors to make SOME financial contribution to their organization annually. I’m not a fan of specific, required minimums, but I can see why some nonprofits stipulate them. It is not an unacceptable practice. What I prefer is to make it clear that each board member should make their nonprofit their major giving priority for the year (preferably their ONLY giving priority for the year). To drive the point home, I say: If you can write the check without thinking about it, it’s not big enough.