Sometimes a board member gives nothing other than useless advice. Jesus prayed all night before choosing his disciples. Have you ever wished you had done the same before recommending certain people to join the board? Or, were you stuck with appointed members, people who would not have chosen to serve the school, but who are passionately committed to meet the most minimum obligations possible?
Can “dead-wood” board members be transformed?
As a great missionary used to tell me, “It’s a bad wind that never changes.” Perhaps enlisting the teachings of Jesus could inspire some unhelpful members to change.
A board member who does not make financial (monetary) contributions to the school is not very interested in the progress of your school. Jesus tells us that where our treasure is, there our hearts will be also (cf. Matthew 6:19–21, Luke 12:33–34). It would be disgraceful for us to think we should be making decisions for an organization that we do not even care enough about to help support.
Should others give to an organization if the leaders themselves do not think it worthy their support? Foundations often check on this. Grant proposals normally include a declaration saying that “the board is fully committed to this project and each member has contributed to it.” This is because foundations assess the board’s commitment to a project by the generosity of its members.
Other donors may also ask about board giving. It would be hypocritical for us to ask others to sacrifice their treasure for a cause that we ourselves do not actively support. Our commitment to give can inspire or discourage other people’s commitment to give.
Board members normally exemplify the Apostle Paul’s admonition to not only excel in faith, speech, knowledge, zeal and love, but also in the grace of giving (cf. 2 Corinthians 8:7). They excel by giving their time, talent, and treasure. This is as it should be. How could they possibly be making decisions for an organization to which they do not donate money? Has no one told them that their financial support would be expected?
How can we set expectations for giving?
A wise first step is to begin with prospective members. When recruiting them, give them a single page of expectations—including the expectation to be a donor of record every year. Put this expectation in the bylaws. Repeat this expectation in the new member orientation.
At each board meeting, include a board-giving report. “So far this year, 11 of our 16 members have made donations for a total of $19,282.” On an annual self-evaluation form, have members indicate whether they are meeting this requirement.
We must not only set, but also reinforce expectations for our decision makers to give in a manner that is consistent with both biblical teachings and roles appropriate for board members.
Good board members contribute—or rather they “get, give, or get off.” Sometimes an unmotivated board member becomes a “good member” by making room for someone who is more interested.
With the help of some teaching about giving and reminders of expectations, it may be possible to help unmotivated board members see that they would prefer to serve the school on a different committee.
And if none of that works, bring in an outside consultant to tell them that good board members contribute (i.e., get, give or get off the board).
Dr. David Agron leads an accreditation consulting firm which, since 1999, has specialized in helping Christian colleges achieve accreditation. Find information at www.accreditation101.com.