One of the biggest challenges we hear from nonprofit organizations is how to improve board fundraising. An increasing number of nonprofits are finding that it’s time to rethink the roles every Board member can, and should, play in creating a strong culture of giving within your organization, in an increasingly fast-paced and digital world where meeting in a Boardroom and simply listening to lengthy presentations may not be terribly appealing or effective.
Board members are an essential part of your nonprofit organization and bring high-level expertise and talent which can be leveraged to advocate and advance your organization’s fundraising and mission. Having Board members who are actively engaged and contributing to your fundraising efforts both personally and/or through their networks is instrumental to your success. Board members believe in your mission and truly want to help your organization achieve the fundraising goals to fulfill that mission.
In fact, most Board members are explicitly, or implicitly, expected to contribute through personal giving and/or through playing a role in raising money. The key to helping Board members meet these expectations comes down to a few best practices to follow, not only in establishing and communicating Board member roles and responsibilities but also in helping them be successful in fulfilling them.
We've just published a free downloadable guide "Board Fundraising & Engagement: 10 Essentials for Success" providing 10 ways that you can significantly elevate Board fundraising and engagement, including insights and advice we've shared with the nonprofit Community through our Driven by Cause Podcast, Educational Webinars, and overall thought leadership from Board engagement experts, including Susan Packard Orr. Download the guide here. In the meantime, here are just three of the great ideas you’ll find inside the guide to begin getting your Board engaged and fundraising!
If you want to up your Board’s engagement in fundraising, make it clear when a new member is recruited. While nonprofits almost always have formal or informal expectations around Board engagement and fundraising, it is essential that these expectations are communicated and ideally formalized to current Board members, and especially as you recruit new Board members.
Of course, the job description will include expectations about general board behavior, such as attendance at board and committee meetings, but it also should include some wording around giving, helping raise from others, and general expectations about participating in development. Make it clear that every Board member is expected to make an annual gift themselves, in addition to helping with fundraising. But fundraising in not just asking people for money. There are many other ways to be involved.
For example, in your Board member job description, you might include your expectations around event attendance, such as purchasing tables, inviting guests, or donating items. Board members might be asked to host gatherings or introduce the organization to their networks. Encourage your Board members to participate in stewardship, perhaps by. writing thank you letters or joining donor recognition events.
It’s also, of course, important to recognize that each person brings a unique set of skills and comfort level. Meet them where they are, but also encourage them to grow in the role through offering opportunities and coaching and consider leveraging technology to help them deliver on Board giving goals by engaging their networks.
Set fundraising goals with each Board member individually. Start by sharing your fundraising plan for the year to help your Board see some of the ways to engage in these efforts. Encourage them to participate in the planning, perhaps coming up with ideas for increasing the returns from some of the efforts or suggesting a new direction. The more they participate in the planning, the more they will take on the goal as their own.
Afterward, sit down individually with each Board member to make a personal plan for them. This could include a discussion of their own gift, but more importantly, it should be a discussion of other ways to participate. For those who are comfortable, it could mean cultivation and even solicitation of their acquaintances. It could mean hosting a dinner for a group or inviting someone to lunch with the executive director. It could be as simple as signing letters or sending a few emails.
It’s important to facilitate and foster relationships between Board members. When members are familiar with each other, it makes them accountable and wants to follow through on their responsibilities and not let others down. A great way to start building relationships among members is by celebrating birthdays! At the beginning of a meeting, pass around a paper and have each member write down their birthday. Celebrate birthdays during meetings throughout the year. This is a great way to build relationships among Board members and to bond as a team! Additionally, sharing contact information is a great way for members to communicate with each other outside of meetings.
For more great tips for getting your Board engaged and fundraising, be sure to download our free guide, "Board Fundraising & Engagement: 10 Essentials for Success!"
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