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  • Writer's pictureValerie Davis

Unleash Your Board’s Fundraising Potential: How to Motivate Your Board to Fundraise

One of the most complicated relationships at a nonprofit is that between the board members and fundraising. Therefore, it’s not surprising that a common and age-old struggle with many nonprofits is getting their board members to bring in donors and do more fundraising.

There are many reasons for this including board members feeling unprepared, reluctant, or unfamiliar with raising money.

Here are some tips to tap into your board’s potential and get them excited about fundraising.

Engage Board Members in Stewardship

The best and most effective way to engage board members is with thanking donors. The easiest place to start is having them send out handwritten thank you notes. Implementing a thank-a-thon where board members call to thank donors is another great way to engage board members and cultivate strong relationships with donors.

Foster their Role as Ambassador

Assist your board members with their role as ambassadors by providing frequent updates and information, and materials they can easily share, such as infographics, short videos, blurbs on coming events, newsletters, and etc. Encourage their support through social media accounts by following, liking and sharing posts – especially during fundraising campaigns.

Recruit a Board Member Champion

Recruiting a board member to champion your development efforts is a must-do item and is crucial for successful board participation in fund development for your organization. Typically, you will want to recruit the Board Chair or Development Committee Chair (pro tip: talk with both of them and have them work in tandem on this).

Communicate – Communicate – Communicate

There is really no such thing as over-communicating with your board about fund development as long as it is pertinent, concise, and considerate. Evaluate your communications with the board: what’s working well and where there may be challenges or gaps. Regarding fund development ensure both the Executive Director and the Development Director are involved. It is essential to regularly update the board on current development efforts, funds raised, donors acquired, successes, and etc. Talk about what the funds raised means for the mission by highlighting the outcomes and impact.

Board Training and Onboarding

Educate your board year-round on development activities and the important ways they can contribute. Help them understand that their role in fundraising is more than planning or selling tickets to the gala or making major gift ask.

Make sure your board understands their roles and responsibilities. Some best practices include:

Get Signed Board Commitments

At the beginning of each year have each board member sign a commitment form. I am partial to the ones with a checklist menu of involvement options where they place mark each item they pledge to perform. Include a place for their financial contribution commitment. There are many points of view about how to handle this, and I am convinced that asking each board member to make a financial gift that is significant for them is more advantageous than just asking each board member to give or raise $1,000. However, each organization and board is different, so do what works best for your organization.

Set Clear Expectations

It is important to set clear expectations, and this is where new board member onboarding is critical to success. I have found that often in the board member recruiting process that the focus is on getting the prospective board member to join rather than ensuring a clear understanding of what is expected of them during their term of service. Therefore, conducting a board orientation for new and current members is integral to cultivating a board that is engaged in fundraising.

Bring in a Consultant

It may be helpful to bring in a consultant to conduct a portion of the training during your board orientation, or present during a board meeting or retreat. Bringing in a knowledgeable person from outside your organization can offer an unbiased perspective on best practices for fundraising or other development efforts.

It is important to be intentional about the ways you choose to engage your board members in your fundraising and stewardship efforts.

How you motivate your board is crucial

Choosing the best tactics is important, but how you go about it is vital for success and deepening your relationships with each board member. A few key components to focus on are:

-make it fun

-respect their time

-report on outcomes and celebrate successes

-communicate what’s in it for them (i.e. how their involvement will help them build new skills, step outside their comfort zone, and build their network, to name a few of the many potential benefits)

In conclusion, motivating your board to successful fundraising boils down to inspiring them to action and providing them with the appropriate guidance and tools. Respecting each board member's unique commitment to the organization can establish deep, lasting bonds that benefit them, the organization and the community being served.

Valerie Davis

Philanthropy Focus

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