Every foundation board must give to the Annual Fund at the level of 100 percent participation. Board participation rates are publicized in proposals to foundations, to the staff and faculty during the employee annual giving campaign and in annual reports to the community. Taking board support as a given, the goal is to realize the maximum amount of support in the most efficient manner.
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Begin the fiscal year with board of directors giving, to “prime the pump”, and put some numbers on the board during July, the slowest month of the fiscal year. Board giving often comprises between 12 and 15 percent of the Annual Fund goal. The chair of the annual fund committee makes the pitch during a July board meeting. Ask amounts are determined by the CDO using the guidelines of past giving as well as the overall goal of making board giving meaningful. I start with an automatic “floor amount” of $1,000 per member. The most common board Annual Fund Ask amounts are between $1,000 and $5,000. Any amount above that is all for the better.
Thirty thousand dollars plus would be a normal yield from a board of 20 members. In fact, this is a conservative estimate. And usually, this is their personal giving, not the dollars that members may also leverage from their companies.
Here is how to make a group pitch at a board meeting: the annual fund committee chair hands out personalized pledge cards containing a specific ask amount. The chair explains that board members will have 11 months to fulfill their pledges. The chair requests that board members hand in their pledge cards at the meeting if possible. This will prevent the director of annual giving from having to chase down board members individually for their gifts over the ensuing months. You want to report 100 percent participation by the time you launch your employee annual giving campaign in August. By all means, encourage gifts of securities. These are usually paid in December.
Reduce you annual workload if you prefer by introducing multi-year Annual Fund pledges, perhaps tied to board membership terms. Just recognize that you may sacrifice a bit of flexibility for gift upgrades with this approach.
If you have difficulty reaching the board Annual Fund goal, it is usually an indication that something is wrong at the board level—unless you simply miscalculated the goal. Most likely, the problem lies in the previous practice of not making giving expectations clear. You will need to enlist your annual fund committee and chair to have private conversations with any members who do not understand that it is their obligation to give. If you are serious about the Annual Fund then you are serious about board of directors giving. Board giving is where college philanthropy begins.