Current nonprofit sector research and recommendations for effective day-to-day practice from ASU faculty, staff, students, and the nonprofit and philanthropic community.
Illustration by Yuxin Qin
If your nonprofit has previously harbored the thought that you do not need board members for fundraising, it’s time to reconsider. There’s a lot you can do, and a lot more that you can raise, by engaging your board members in fundraising practices.
While engaging board members is the right thing for any organization to do, it isn’t always easy to accomplish. It can be frustrating bringing board members into the world of fundraising either because board members may not know how much they can offer, or the organization may not know how they can raise their participation. It is also possible that board members just do not know where to start.
Here are 11 ways for board members to engage in nonprofit fundraising:
- Make fundraising a part of the meeting agenda. Include a session in your board meeting discussing fundraising and the importance of board members being a part of it. Every board member should be willing to discuss this, otherwise, the board will get the message that fundraising is not an organizational priority. Do not make this session the last thing on the agenda; it should be one of the first things you discuss during the meeting.
- Make fundraising a core of the organization. More than just discussing it as a point at a board meeting, it should be a major fiber of the organization. You must ensure that every member of the organization is involved in fundraising from the very beginning. It has to be the air that your organization breathes.
- Set expectations for board members. The specific fundraising needs of the organization must be well spelled out. Laying out expectations should be the first thing you do before bringing in board members to engage in fundraising. This clarity will ensure that you already have an idea of what to expect from the board members, and it will be easier to bring them on when the vision is clear.
- Know the interests and strengths of your board members. Understanding your board members and their interests is essential. Spending enough time with them and discussing the future of the organization will give you an idea of their mindsets and interests. This will allow you to match their interests with your needs as an organization.
- Let the board members have personal experience with the organization. Getting the board members to experience the organization’s mission personally makes them more aware and involved. Once they develop a personal connection, they can tell stories and speak to others for support.
- Make sure the board can tell the organization's stories. If a board member can tell stories personally and emotionally, it will have a powerful effect and ensure that you can raise more money for your organization. You’ll also experience positive feedback.
- Start slow before building bigger projects. Look for small ways that you can start to engage your board members. You can begin by asking them to call donors to thank them for their support, write thank-you notes, or even help host an event. This will create a culture where board members participate in the fundraising before you bring them into deeper engagement.
- Initiate the action. It will be a mistake on your part if you are waiting for the board to initiate their engagement in fundraising. Take the initiative and introduce it with passion and enthusiasm. If you do not take action yourself, you will end up achieving nothing.
- Hold personal meetings with individual board members. While it is not a bad idea to discuss with the board members as a group, you will be more effective if you speak to them individually as well. This will make it easy for you to relate to each person and communicate a personal discussion effectively. This will enable you to discuss which role each individual board member fits into for them to play in fundraising. Make sure you provide examples and options of how each member can help and allow them the decision.
- Be simple and precise. Board members are typically busy people, so they do not always have extra time for uncertainties. That’s why you have to be sure of your projects, expectations, and how they can help before you approach them. Make sure your request is concrete and precise. This will allow all ideas to resonate more with them.
- Appreciate the board members. Genuinely appreciating the efforts that your board members put in to past or present fundraising campaigns will encourage further involvement in future fundraising events and campaigns.
It will not be an easy task to accomplish, but by implementing these 11 ideas into your organization, your board members will feel more engaged and willing to partake in fundraising. It is essential for your nonprofit organization that you are able to bring board members on track with fundraising to increase funding and stimulate the future of the nonprofit.
Jessica Chapman is a writer and editor from Chicago, working at a college essay writing service and essay writer service. She is into sport and politics, enjoys traveling, and has previously written for Candid.org.
Want to learn more?
Enroll today in the Fundraising and Sustainable Financial Management Certificate from the ASU Lodestar Center's Nonprofit Management Institute. NMI also offers certificates in Grant Development and Proposal Writing to help you and your nonprofit secure the funding needed to fulfill your mission.