Building a Successful Fundraising Board

Building a Successful Fundraising Board

I’ve been asked to do a presentation on the Role of The Board in Fundraising, and I’m thrilled. Board involvement is the heart and soul of good fundraising. Committed leadership is a nonprofit’s greatest strength.

But, moving to a fundraising board is not always easy. The shift is wrought with tension between the members of the board and staff.

Throughout my years of working with boards in transition, I have heard a lot of reasons why board members do not like to engage in fundraising. Each concern is legitimate and needs attention.

“If I ask, I’ll have to give.”  – Board members are usually asked to engage their family, friends and colleagues. Quite often they are asked to reciprocate and give to their contact’s favorite nonprofit. This could be a problem for board members with limited means.

“No one told me I would have to raise money.”  People join boards for different reasons and work on various projects and programs. It is, however, a board responsibility to raise resources to support the organization. A smart practice is to include fundraising expectations in the board orientation.

 “It’s embarrassing to ask people for money.”  Make sure your organization provides fundraising training. Understanding the development process is important and will assuage a lot of discomfort. 

Should all board members be involved with fundraising? Absolutely! That isn’t to say that everyone will be engaged in the same way. There are many elements that go into successful fundraising.

To get started, walk before you run. Ask each board member to give to the extent of his or her ability. Match talent and comfort levels to the type of fundraising activities in which the organization is involved.

Some board members will be much more comfortable working on a special event than face-to-face solicitation. Some will have the technical savvy to grow interest in their organization through social media.

Remember, people give to people. The main reason a person makes his or her first gift to a nonprofit is that the right person asks. So, successful fundraising goes hand-in-hand with building relationships. And who better to build those relationships than leadership?

You know you have a fundraising board when members are asked what they do for their nonprofit and they say “We raise resources and influence for our organization.”

Now you know you’re on the road to success!

Brainstorming – Your Key to Creative Solutions

“Imagination is more important than knowledge” Albert Einstein

Creative Thinking

What a dynamic session! I had the privilege of teaching another event management course for the Georgia Center for Nonprofit’s Nonprofit University.

I always encourage people to start the planning phase of all marketing communications initiatives with a brainstorming session. It is very useful when planning a new or updating an established special event.

Brainstorming creates a freewheeling environment in which everyone is encouraged to participate. There are no “wrong” or “bad” ideas.

Make sure participants have fun brainstorming. Encourage them to come up with as many ideas as possible, from the solidly practical to whimsical. Welcome creativity!

Here are some suggestions for holding a great brainstorming session. These are from Notes For Nonprofits :

  1. Set a Goal – This helps keep everyone on track
  2. Be Strategic – Invite people with diverging opinions. Be sure and create a mix of  big picture thinkers.
  3. Post an Agenda – Brainstorming doesn’t necessarily mean a free for all. Creating an outline will keep you on task and help you focus on specific sections.
  4. Start the session off with leading questions.
  5. Encourage everyone to speak.
  6. Determine data collection. I like to provide a flip chart so everyone can see all the responses.
  7. Set a time limit. I suggest you break the session into 1/2 hour segments. If not, the session tends to become dry.

Brainstorming to add to your next special event? Once the goal is set, hold your brainstorming session. Betsy Wiersma and Karl Strolberg suggest using four open-ended questions to add WOW to your event:

  • What will surprise our guests?
  • What will they talk about after the event?
  • What will leave a lasting impression?
  • What will be extra special or unique?

Have you had any successes brainstorming? I would love to hear from you!