Without fundraising, most nonprofits would cease to exist. However, the BoardSource “Leading with Intent” Report consistently has fundraising performance as a top area needing improved board performance. Fundraising is often outside the comfort zone for board members, but some key strategies can help change that.
Set Expectations Early
Board members need to understand the expectations for fundraising before joining. The recruiting committee should have frank conversations with prospective members. They should be clear what the fundraising responsibilities and personal giving requirements are and include them in the board responsibilities agreement. If potential board members are unable to commit to these expectations, then board service is likely not appropriate.
Educate Board Members
Recognize that new board members need to become familiar with the organization’s mission and programs before making asks. They should understand the value the organization brings to the community, be able to articulate the impact it makes and be able to make a compelling case for why donors should support the work. According to the Network for Good, the number one reason why donors stop giving is they stop thinking that they (or their gifts) matter. Boards need to turn that around.
Board members should also take advantage of fundraising training opportunities to understand the development process, the mechanics of cultivation, solicitation and stewardship, and how to engage personal networks. Also, it is important for board members to personally call and thank donors. It gives them an opportunity to cultivate donors and learn why donors give. These activities give new board members confidence.
Foster a Board Culture of Fundraising
The board should have a culture of fundraising. By placing fundraising on the board meeting agenda as a priority, the board chair can publicly acknowledge members involved in the fundraising process and follow up with others to ensure their annual giving requirements are met.
The development director or board fundraising committee chair should also identify appropriate cultivation and stewardship opportunities for board member participation. For example, they can brainstorm how new donors can be introduced to the organization and review the current donor recognition practices and discuss how donor appreciation could be improved.
Remember to Ask
Fundraising is about building and maintaining relationships. The number one reason people do not give to organizations is that they were not asked. The Network for Good found in its “Donor-Centered Fundraising” survey that participants were asked how a “thank you” call from a board member would impact their future giving. Ninety-three percent said they would definitely or probably give again when next asked, and 84 percent would give a larger gift.
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