Changing a board’s philanthropic culture is a big challenge. Convincing board members to become true ambassadors, as well as campaigners, for your organization doesn’t happen overnight, but is one of the best legacies you can leave. Cultural change takes time and consistent effort. Too often, we think of this as a one meeting announcement to our board and boom! We’re done.

    I wish it was that easy, but I’ve found what’s most effective is a step-by-step process. The most important component of the process is having regular conversations with your board leaders. Try to meet with board members individually to talk about what the philanthropic mission of your organization means to them. It involves recruiting and orienting your new board members in a different way and letting current board members know what is expected from them from now on.

    In my experience, this is usually a three year process. During this time you will lose some board members, but will be bringing on a new group of leaders with a fresh view of their role. It’s critical that your board leaders are in this with you and helping you manage through this process. Conversations at every board meeting are essential and will help to gradually change the mindset of the board.

    Where are you in this process? Not where you want to be? Develop a three-year plan with annual steps to accomplish. Not sure where to begin? Consider using the “100/20/50” guideline (thank you Jack Lund!) to challenge your board: 100% of the board gives personally equaling 20% of your campaign goal and helps to get 50% of the goal. If nothing else, this challenge will foster interesting conversations and help to analyze where you are now and where you could be in just a few years.


    • Board Education on why change is necessary and how it will benefit the organization.
    • Begin 100/20/50 conversations. What are the desired expectations for board members?
    • Celebrate board members who are willing to try new ways of campaigning and recognize those who make the effort.


    • Evaluate the past years’ progress and set goals for the coming year for your board members.
    • Develop challenges for board members.
    • Recruit new board members with the new understanding of their role in philanthropy. Utilize their new excitement for the mission to instill new energy for current board members.
    • Share board progress in campaigning at the end of your campaign and celebrate the wins and progress you’ve made so far.


    • Identify new goals for the board for year three. This should include 100% board giving and campaigning by this time.
    • Evaluate each board member on their own production for the campaign and challenge them to continually upgrade their level of cultivation with their donors.

    Changing your philanthropic culture can seem overwhelming, but taking it one step at a time and including your board leadership in this planning will reap benefits for years to come.

    Posted by Peggy Vinson on Nov. 3, 2016
    Peggy Vinson

    Written by Peggy Vinson

    Since joining DBD in 2005, Peggy has coached executive staff and volunteers on increasing the effectiveness of their fundraising efforts. Peggy’s prescriptive approach focuses on the organization’s strengths and challenges. She meets her clients where they are, helping all to grow their fundraising skills. By developing strategic, measurable plans and skill sets, Peggy helps organizations not only meet their goals this year, but increase their capacity for the future.

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