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FundraisingNonprofit Boards

From Board Member to Fund-Raiser: Getting Your Board Involved in Fundraising

Far too often, nonprofit leaders complain about their Board of Directors not engaging in fundraising efforts. Getting board members involved with fundraising can be challenging. Some are not fully committed to the work of the organization, but for many the issue is they don’t know how, and they don’t want to “mess it up.” Equipping the Board of Directors with the tools they need to assist with fundraising enables them to be effective successful fund-raisers.

Sometimes organizational documents tend to be verbose full of all the facts and figures. Board members are handed documents at a meeting and sent off to “raise funds.” After a few weeks, frustrations rise because nothing has been done. The secret to getting board members to understand how to use the materials is to create them in conversational style and not in a formal, written style. We tend to remember more information from reading documents written in conversational language.

What tools does the Board need to fundraise?

A Case for Support written in conversational language (see above). This includes major talking points about the organization such as an elevator speech. An elevator speech is a brief (2-3 minute) but powerful outline of the organization’s work. It should also include:

  • Who the organization serves (the population)
  • The need being addressed by the organization
  • What does the organization do (overview of programs and services)

Next, the board needs to understand what differentiates the organization from other organizations that do similar work. These are the selling points that will catch the attention of people. Here, the organization’s leadership needs to think about what sets them apart from the others. Is there a large volunteer pool? Are the services comprehensive? Has the organization received awards or recognition? Is there something the organization does that is unique or does it use a specialized approach? Are you achieving outcomes that exceed the standard for your field?

Equip your board members with an understanding of the outcomes being achieved by the organization. For many, this is an area that is difficult to understand. Take the time to explain the process of achieving outcomes and the evaluation methods used to track them. Then, teach your board to answer the question, “how we measure success” or  “how we change lives.”

Share stories with your board members. Remember, you may hear the stories every day, but your board members are not hearing them. Stories are powerful fundraising tools. At each board meeting, share a story of success, help board members to understand how the organization was involved in the success.

Finally, board members need to understand the funding of the organization. Even though they should be approving the annual budget, they may not be well versed on where the funds come from to support the work of the organization. Equip them with information about where funding comes from—what percent of funding is from individuals, what percent is from foundations, government agencies, etc. Is there any portion of funding that is at-risk?

Developing the tools for board fundraising is a best practice to equip board members to raise funds; however, if we are honest, many board members may still not be active fundraisers. But, if just a couple begin to help, their efforts will go a long way to raising the funds the organization needs.

Are you overwhelmed at the thought of developing the fundraising tools the board needs? Contact us, we can help!

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