Board Development with Pamela Gann


At the October 23rd, 2016 Nonprofit Brown Bag (NBB), former Claremont McKenna President Pamela Gann gave an informative presentation to local nonprofits on board development. For this particular NBB, Pamela Gann focused on the idea of “give or get,” a board guideline that targets board members’ ability to raise funds through personal donations and finding other donors. She shared that the ideal long-term goal for a nonprofit is to have a board where 100 percent of board members give personal donations, to show their financial support in addition to their commitment of time and energy already. While the chosen amount may vary depending on the circumstances of the organization, it is helpful to establish a minimum expected donation. The actual amount of the gift can depend on whether the board member’s strength lies within their financial capabilities or other attributes. These other attributes can include their ability to “get” money by cultivating new donors.

Beyond their financial capacity to give, every board member should act as an ambassador for the board by bringing guests to information sessions, publicizing the organization in their community, and building the interest of potential donors. In order to maximize the board’s potential, board members should also have their strengths and past experiences identified through evaluations, commendations and the creation of committees.

While achieving all these milestones with board members may seem daunting, they can be accomplished by setting small goals over time, making sure everyone is willing to change and adapt (possibly bringing in a third party to depersonalize this process), and creating a transition period for recruiting new board members and creating steps towards the new goals.

These ideas sparked a lot of interest in 15 to 20 community leaders that attended this event. The group of nonprofit representatives varied greatly in the operations of their current boards so they were able to share many differing perspectives and voice their personal challenges and solutions with the rest of the group. We hope that you can join us at our next Nonprofit Brown Bag on design-centered thinking on Tuesday, December 6th!

If you need assistance with board development, please reach out to SOURCE at We look forward to hearing from you.