As annual reports rolled across my desk the past month from causes I supported I was struck by one consistency. Most social sector organizations’ board members come from the top donor levels. To be a board member one needs have relative philanthropic capacity, at least that seems to be the theme. It makes me wonder if the best decision makers are the individuals who have the deepest pockets? Of course I expect ever board member to reach a little deeper when it comes to contributing to a cause they serve, but that does not mean a $100 donor is going to suddenly reach the $5,000 giving level. Who on the enterprise’s board represents those who are passionate fans but purchase tickets to programs as their budget allows? Who sits outside on the lawn with the majority of the attendees and not under the tent with a select few during a symphonic performance? Who is in-touch with those that come into the gallery after open-night when the tour is free? Who can advocate for the strategic implications of an initiative not just from the perspective of how it effects the major donors?
I would suggest that some of the best decision-makers and the most remarkable collaborations have come when the board’s background has been varied and its shared experience does not generate from the number of zeros to the left of a decimal point in a bank account.
What does your cause’s annual report say about the board?