Resource development is a crucial component of Board service. Board members each commit to ensuring the organization has the resources to thrive, and fundraising is a major part. A culture of enthusiasm for nonprofit Board fundraising is important to provide the organization with the resources it needs to pursue its mission. Yet not every Board member has experience with fundraising, and many admit that they are uncomfortable soliciting donations. The good news is that anyone can be taught to be a part of the fundraising cycle with the right training and support.
- Establish a clear “Give or Get” Policy
Board members are expected to make personal contributions, which should be clearly stated in the organization’s “Give or Get” policy. This policy allows Board members to either personally give the stated amount or direct a gift from another entity for the stated amount. This policy becomes public when outside funders inquire about the Board’s financial commitment and helps assure that the organization will receive annual leadership gifts.
- Set Clear Expectations for Board Fundraising from the Start
This doesn’t always mean asking for donations. If an organization is large enough to have a development professional, then the Board may focus primarily on governance issues and assist the development team with introductions and other personal contributions. For smaller nonprofits, the Board’s network and fundraising efforts are much more crucial to the organization’s bottom line. It is important to make expectations clear from the outset. Expectations for nonprofit Board fundraising should be discussed during their recruitment interviews, and some organizations even ask the incoming Board members to sign a “Board Member Expectation Agreement”.
- Create a Culture of Enthusiasm for Board Fundraising
A culture of enthusiasm for Board fundraising is important to provide the organization with the resources it needs to pursue its mission. Fundraising takes a village, and a team effort will be more effective and way more fun! By working together as a team, the Board and staff can execute a fundraising plan through the moves management process. And a little friendly competition never hurts! Find ways to encourage individual Board members through positive reinforcement of their efforts and celebrate their fundraising milestones along the way.
- Provide Fundraising Training
Contrary to popular belief, there are no innate fundraising skills that people are born with. Everyone who has been successful at fundraising has learned them at some point along the way. Having said this, it is essential to provide the Board with fundraising training, even if a Board member has had prior experience. Board members can also make important introductions from their business and personal contacts. Additionally, there may be other ways that Board members can educate the community on the importance of the mission through speaking opportunities or mission tours. Fundraising training modules, sample email templates, and talking points are just some of the tools that development professionals can provide to give Board members a level playing field to launch the fundraising campaign.
- Arm Board Members with a Good Case Statement
It is essential to craft a quality case statement before Board fundraising efforts are underway. A case statement spells out the organization’s mission, the problem it is solving and/or resources it is providing, how the organization is meeting that need, and its biggest goals for the future. Once Board members are armed with the case statement, they will feel comfortable making the case for support of their organization to everyone they meet.
- Meet With Board Members Periodically to Discuss Their Fundraising Commitment
It is also important to meet with the Board members periodically to discuss their fundraising commitment and other assigned duties. Board members are busy people, and they often need assistance to stay on task and timeline. And you’ll learn so much more about their fundraising efforts through phone calls and/or in-person meetings than email. Offer to set a schedule of short but frequent meetings to discuss their efforts, make suggestions for the next steps, and document their work in the donor database.
- Tap into What Ignites A Board Member’s Passion for Your Mission
If one of your Board members is more of a technician and not really a fundraiser, find a way to ignite their passion for the cause. Find out what makes them dedicated by tapping into their emotions. Understand why being on the Board is meaningful to them, what made them join the Board in the first place, and what they hope to accomplish by serving on the Board. Once you have tapped into these emotions, it should be easier to ignite the fire and get the Board member fundraising.
- Seek Professional Advice
An experienced fundraising professional can advise the nonprofit on what constitutes an appropriate fundraising goal, the timeline, and the steps necessary to reach the fundraising goal. Logic models, gift charts, and focus groups are helpful tools to ensure the fundraising goal is reasonable and attainable.
- Have a Good Database and System to Manage the Development Cycle
There are many fundraising database platforms that help development professionals manage prospects and donors, find potential engagement opportunities, and keep track of who last engaged with each person. These platforms also provide fundraising reports that the Board can evaluate as it measures its progress towards its fundraising goals and eventually celebrates together when these goals are met.
- Have Fun Fundraising!
Most importantly, every Board member should know that fundraising can be fun and a very rewarding experience. And with the right plan for your Board, your fundraising efforts will not only be successful, but you will create a great esprit de corps among your organization’s top supporters.
Written by Christine Rahill, Impact Coach and Nonprofit Consultant at Soukup Strategic Solutions.