Ten Strategies for Building Your Board’s Fundraising Skill and Confidence

One of the greatest challenges many nonprofits face is developing a culture of fundraising on their Board of Directors. So often we hear of CEO’s bemoaning the struggles of convincing board members that their leadership in the form of “giving and getting” sets the tone for the success of overall development efforts.

Members-Only Webinar, AFP-NYC Headquarters, New York City

By Susan Fields, CFRE

PRESENTER

Most board members know they are supposed to fundraise, but don’t have the necessary experience or training to do it.”

Robbe Healy, ACFRE
Vice President, Simpson Senior Services
Founding Member, Aurora Philanthropic Consulting

PROGRAM HOST

“The greatest block for boards in fundraising is because money is the hardest thing to talk about in our society with anyone—be it family, friends, or co-workers.”

Richard Brown
President, RB Consulting

One of the greatest challenges many nonprofits face is developing a culture of fundraising on their Board of Directors. So often we hear of CEO’s bemoaning the struggles of convincing board members that their leadership in the form of “giving and getting” sets the tone for the success of overall development efforts. This Members-Only AFP Webinar, provided attendees with the following strategies for transforming board members from recalcitrant to enthusiastic about fundraising for their organizations.  The lively discussion facilitated by Richard Brown allowed attendees to share and comment on the individual challenges they encounter in the own organizations. 

  1. Get your board excited about your organization’s fundraising plans. In order for board members to be motivated to ask for money, they need to feel enthusiastic about how it will be used. This means involving your board in the creation of the organization’s Strategic Plan and educating them regarding the staff’s Development Plan to raise the funds needed to bring it to fruition.
     
  2. Educate your board regarding the organizational budget. What are the various revenue streams from fundraising and other sources such as membership dues, earned income, and fee-for-service? Also provide them with a breakdown of where donors are giving by category: face-to-face, annual fund, events, board giving, online, telephone, etc.
     
  3. Make your board feel safe in admitting that they might need help in learning to fundraise. Have them fill out a questionnaire and/or hold a special workshop specifically to address this topic. Inquire as to how they feel about asking for money, if they grew up with a family member who served on a nonprofit board, worked for a nonprofit, served as a volunteer, or contributed to charitable causes.
     
  4. Identify the members of the board who are ready to “take lessons” in learning how to fundraise. Training can be provided by the development staff or an outside consultant at a special workshop or retreat. As part of the training members should be asked which charities they give to and why—as well as organizations they have declined to support and why.
     
  5. Recognize that not everyone is going to be a super-star! In the process of educating your board, you will see that some members will never be fully comfortable about asking. But everyone should and can do something—such as participating in soliciting sponsors for an event, manning the phones at the annual phonathon, or signing annual fund letters.
     
  6. Bring your board to the same fundraising level and culture as your organization’s development program. A level-one program seeks small gifts to supplement the budget, level-two works to raise donor interest in specific programs and holds targeted cultivation events, while level-three is a highly sophisticated comprehensive process which seeks major and planned gifts.
     
  7. Transform the culture of your board to reach “level three” through  transparent recruiting practices.This will involve openly seeking board members who are have linkage to your organization through their relationship with the nonprofit or a peer, the financial ability to make a substantial gift as well access to individuals or groups with funds, and a demonstrated passion and interest in the mission of your organization.
     
  8. Consider a Development Team Approach. Depending upon the size of your institution, board members can be encouraged to serve on leadership teams to support various fundraising vehicles such as Annual Giving, Special Events, Young Friends, Annual Giving, Major Gifts, Planned Giving, etc. Some might also wish to serve on committees for major galas or golf outings, etc.
     
  9. Create special “past member societies” for former board members. Honorary or Emeritus Trustee and Board Chair groups are an excellent way to keep valued supporters active and “in the loop”. Why spend so much time training a volunteer when you can maintain their continued involvement, generosity, and, in some cases, leadership in other vital areas of your organization.
     
  10. Create a formalized “culture change” action plan utilizing the above nine strategies. This plan will be part of an ongoing process of making “giving and getting” a priority for your board. At first, some members will resist change, but will be more apt to participate once they have witnessed the success and generosity of others. Those who chose to “stand down” should be allowed to remain as long as they engage in the activities for which they were recruited.

 

 

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