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August 29, 2018

The Board’s Role in Fundraising for Your Organization

Board Fundraising

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 throughout 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. 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 to fundraise.

Here are some tips to effectively engage your board to fundraise:

  • Implement a strategic plan that clearly communicates the board’s fundraising goals
  • Create a compelling vision of what the board is fundraising for and be clear in messaging
  • Encourage the board to leverage their network of contacts to achieve their development goals
  • Establish mechanisms for accountability among board members and inspire teamwork

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. 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 understanding of the program, an engaging mix of stories and statistics, and a deep understanding of how each board member contributes to the development process can make any board member a successful fundraiser.

Frank Abdale, Senior Associate Consultant, Support Center

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