aising more money in an extremely competitive environment means tapping every resource you have, beginning with your nonprofit board members. A strong board that is fully engaged in fundraising for your cause is the key to ensuring your organization’s sustainability. Weak boards that shirk their responsibility to fundraise end up over taxing an organization’s staff resulting in burnout, turnover, and unmet fundraising goals.
A Fundraising Guide for Nonprofit Board Members is the most comprehensive guide for best practices in fundraising and the involvement of board members we’ve recommended to date. Author Julia Walker covers all levels of fundraising, real world examples, tips and techniques for the browser and the engagement of board members throughout the giving cycle.
Walker takes the “give or get” mantra and replaces it with a description of a more active and productive role board members can play in achieving modest or lofty development goals. This book aims to help you transform your passive board into a lively cadre of volunteers who’re ready to cultivate and close all kinds of gifts.
First: Four compelling reasons why a nonprofit board must take an active leadership role in fundraising include:
- The board holds fiduciary responsibility for resources to fuel the mission, which involves transparency, accountability and no conflicts of interest.
- The board oversees all fundraising programs and opportunities. It approves all projects and assures all fundraising is ethical and money goes toward the mission.
- The board sets the pace through its own giving.
- The board sets the tone for the community’s view of the nonprofit.
Even with advancement staff to provide structure, expertise and support, the nonprofit board needs to lead and inspire with fundraising. To achieve maximum fundraising performance and avoid burnout, every board member must be involved in some capacity.
Second: The leadership in the organization needs to implement the following to ensure all board members will be involved:
- Recruit diverse members with fundraising experience or connections to donors.
- Write a job description that includes fundraising for new nonprofit board members.
- Recruit in a manner where expectations are clear and not perceived as orders.
- Provide fundraising training for board members.
Third: Everyone has a part to play
Walker acknowledges the longstanding difficulty in engaging nonprofit board members in fundraising. For most members, like all people, asking for money does not come naturally, but Walker stresses the necessity for all board members to be integrally involved because of their shared fiduciary responsibilities.
Board members have too much valuable information and can preach the mission better than anyone. So, even if you only have a few who can make the actual ask, the others have a variety of ways to get involved.
Walker gives an extensive chart on these tasks, including cultivating prospects, leading efforts in stewardship, communicating, etc. Kay Sprinkel Grace, author of The Ultimate Board Member’s Book, addresses Walker’s chart of tasks in three categories of involvement (3 A’s): ambassador, advocate and asker. Both Walker and Grace agree the most effective way to train board members in fundraising is to pair them up with staff and experienced askers.
Fourth: Two studies on donor motivation—the importance of nonprofit boards
In Walker’s book, she references a study that found high-end donors’ motivations for giving lie in their feelings (making a difference and feeling financially secure) and the efficiency of the organization. In Grace’s book, she references a study that found high-end donors must respect the organization’s leadership to donate. If the studies reference leadership and efficiency, the board should epitomize both to donors. The board is the only entity within the organization that can ensure these qualities. The message from both experts is explicit—the board is the leadership in the organization and as such, must be the body that adheres to the mission in every way financially. Walker challenges boards to a higher calling and a serious, comprehensive understanding of fiduciary responsibility. No small task, but one that can make or break your organization’s mission impact.
For an in-depth look at Walker’s book and an author interview, download the full Page to Practice™ summary by visiting our store or subscribing to the summary library. (Use MOSAIC promotion code for a discount!) Or, you can purchase the book at www.wiley.com and view Walker’s other books on fundraising.
For more great ideas on getting your nonprofit board involved with fundraising, be sure to sign up for the Masters Circle. Each month we cover topics you suggest and answer your fundraising questions. See you there!