Do away with minimum contributions for nonprofit board members!

Paying directors more is being advanced in the corporate sector.

NGOs often require trustees to “pay” with minimum contribution levels and the more elite the NGO the higher the expected contribution.

This results in trustees with less experience in changing organizations and very large boards to increase the number of director level philanthropic gifts.

It may be time to challenge this basic theory. Does a trustee deliver more value with their philanthropic contribution or by giving significantly better time, debating ideas and potential direction of the NGO?

Board members should be selected based on their capacity to contribute to organizational transformation. Trustees should be thinking and behaving like owners, they should make decisions as if their personal assets were at risk. I believe that philanthropy is driven by organizational excellence and by passionate advocates who believe the organization is growing as well as changing the world. Transformational growth of NGOs is never achieved by requiring minimum gifts.

What would happen if NGOs required trustees a significant personal commitment to be responsible for transformational NGO growth?

This is not a proposal to ask for less of a director, it is to ask for more; more of the very highest level of leadership skills and for trustees to act as owners driving results focused on the organization’s effectiveness and growth.

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Doug McDonald