Getting the board to fundraise can be a very challenging experience even when board members recognize that a primary responsibility of every nonprofit board is ensuring that the organization has the resources it needs to meet its mission.
One of the first things that can help is to distinguish between “Fundraising” and “Development.” “Fundraising” is an activity with a beginning, middle and an end that results in dollars, while “Development” can be seen as an ongoing, never-ending process of acquiring a wide range of resources for the organization. All board members can participate in both areas in a number of ways including:
● Ensuring that there is a viable development plan in place
● Partnering with staff to meet annual fundraising goals
● Helping to identify and cultivate potential donors
● Owning their responsibility to act as ambassadors for the organization
● Making a personal gift
● Soliciting donations from their extended personal universe
● Helping to create and maintain a culture of philanthropy throughput the organization
To elevate the board’s capacity to engage in fundraising, it can be helpful to engage an outside consultant or consulting firm to facilitate and inform a discussion about the thorny issues that might emerge once you start talking about fundraising, such as:
● Instituting “Give/Get” policies
● Requiring 100% board giving
● Transitioning from a programmatically-focused or thought-partner board to a fundraising board
● Recruiting board members who can fundraise
● Communicating fundraising expectations to current and new board members
● Establishing mechanisms for accountability in all areas of board performance, including fundraising.
A neutral party can help keep the conversation at both a high-level - connected to passion, values, mission and best practices - and a practical level that explores individual challenges, identifies the dynamics of effective fundraising, discusses ways to overcome resistance and examines how a person’s own relationship to money influences their ability fundraise.
No one is born knowing how to do this and some people will be naturally better and more able than others. That said, clear expectations, a strong board/staff partnership, ongoing training, a deep connection to the program, an engaging mix of stories and statistics, and a clear understanding of how each board member contributes to the development process can make any board member a successful fundraiser. Want to learn more about the dynamics of effective fundraising? Join me on Thursday, September 6 for the live webinar How to Establish Expectations for Board Fundraising.
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