The most successful nonprofits, no matter their size or mission, have strong fundraising boards. It is the job of the nonprofit development professional or executive director to craft board members into champions, and here is a checklist to inspire you to do so!
Define the Board Member Role as a Fundraising Job
First board members need to know clearly that an expectation of their job is to help fundraise. Ask yourself:
1. Is fundraising responsibility in the bylaws?
2. Do we clearly state organizational sustainability and capacity as a short term, medium term, and long term goal?
3. Do we have a development or fundraising committee, or at least a Development Chair on the board? (See checklist Setting Up a Fundraising Committee.)
4. Do we have a board contribution (both direct and indirect) line item in our development plan?
5. Do we ask board members about their fundraising experience or connections to potential donors before we appoint them?
6. Does our board chair and lead board member recruiter explain and promote fundraising when speaking with potentials?
7. Do all board members know the status of organizational fundraising? Are we reporting at meetings? Are we reporting monthly via email updates?
Take Board Fundraising Fear Away
The greatest barrier to getting board members to fundraise is taking away the fear that is attached to it. The fear manifests from the idea of asking people – either strangers or friend – for money. Many perceive asking for money as rude. Get around it by taking these steps:
8. Have a retreat with your board members where they openly talk about their fear of fundraising. This can be a conference call if you can’t get everyone together.
- What are you anxious about?
- Why is fundraising ugly?
- How do you envision helping us if it is not by fundraising?
9. Be clear that they will never have to solicit money if it makes them uncomfortable, unless it’s been explicitly required. There are many other things they can do in the fundraising process to get you to the ask! Fundraising is not about money, but about connecting those with resources to causes that they care about – it is a form of volunteerism. Fundraisers are just the relationship builders, the conduits for that process.
Make it Fun to Fundraise
Anything volunteer needs to be fun. And you will evaporate the fear factor by honing each board member’s fundraising role to their personal hobbies and affinities.
10. Tie fundraising into their favorite recreational activities. If your board member likes golf, ask him to take two donor prospects for 9 holes and talk about your organization.
11. Tie fundraising into places they would like to visit. If one of your connected directors tells you she wants to see the new children’s museum, ask her to think about connecting with them to host a joint event!
12. Tie fundraising into who they like to work with. Make sure people are working with the other team members they like best, whether they are staff, board, or volunteers!
Set Measurable, Attainable Fundraising Goals for Each Board Member
Ask them to do easy things to get them involved!
13. Bring board members to foundation meetings.
14. Ask them to connect with local corporations. This is impersonal to most people, and they are more comfortable!
15. Ask them to go to other nonprofit events and make friends with potential donors. Spies!
16. Ask them to sign letters you have already crafted to major gift donors or prospects.
Reward Board Members for Fundraising Service with Real Prizes
Make it a competition, and reward them for their service!
17. Did you ask your Chair or most able member to make a challenge grant for board gifts?
18. Did you ask local businesses for gift certificates for prizes for reaching fundraising goals?
19. Can you make DIY Reuse Crafts for interesting awards?
20. Did you promise a private party after hours at your museum for the board member that brings in the most new donors?
Give Your Board Members Resources to Achieve Fundraising Goals
Give them every resource at your disposal to dissolve all excuses.
21. Offer your administrative support to send letters, etc.
22. Send them a suggested list of contacts of theirs that you want to pursue.
23. Create a user friendly database to plan contact dates and solicit prospect cultivation reports.
24. Email weekly or biweekly to check in on status reports.