Nonprofit Board Member Fundraising: Challenges and Opportunities

Nonprofit Board Member Fundraising:  Challenges and opportunities

A nonprofit board is a great strategic asset for nonprofit organizations. Board members provide leadership, knowledge, experience, and vision and perform a number of tactical roles as part of their responsibilities on the board. While some nonprofit boards and board members are more engaged and motivated than others, a constant challenge in the nonprofit community is to find ways to motivate board members to fundraise on behalf of the nonprofit.

The vision and mission of the nonprofit is important, but without funds, nonprofit organizations cannot function effectively. While organizations have various ways of raising operating funds, traditional fundraising is a very important one. In many cases, board members simply do not want to call on prospective major donors, family and friends or business associates, however with the right motivation and organization, your nonprofit board members can overcome this hesitation and become fruitful fundraisers for your nonprofit organization. 

Establish roles and expectations around fundraising with your board

The roles of board directors in non profits will vary from one organization to another but typically they include functions such executive management, financial oversight, marketing and public relations, program development, and personnel management. One very critical role that board members in non profit organizations should be conducting is fundraising. In this regard it is important that your organization establish ground rules about fundraising expectations with board members prior to bringing a board member into the organization.    

Board members in non profit organizations should be required to raise funds and generate contributions to the organization. Be clear with board members about the importance of this responsibility since it critical to the survival of many nonprofit organizations. Oftentimes board members are required to make a gift or personal contribution to the organization or provide a business contribution as part their annual responsibility. By connecting the mission and goals with clear cut financial requirements, you’ll help board members get a better understanding of the relationship between their efforts and the ability of the non profit to do its work.  

Many nonprofits can benefit from a formalized fundraising committee. The fundraising committee will meet to create a fundraising plan and execution strategy as well as to work with board members to identify sources of fundraising support. Depending on the size and makeup of your non-profit board, it would be ideal to have 2 or 3 members on your Fundraising Committee. Since this committee will be executing tasks as well developing fundraising strategy, it may be beneficial to assign a member of your staff to the board committee as well to perform the required communication tasks involved in fundraising execution.   

Educating your non profit board on fundraising

Conduct a simple exercise asking each Board Member to develop a universe of potential donors. Ask them to open up their rolodex, email contacts, holiday card lists to find potentials contributors. People who are close to them are more likely to be good fundraising prospects. Next, help them determine who would have the greatest propensity to share your non profit organization’s goals and mission. In other words, which contacts would relate best to what you do every day. Finally, ask the board member to list who they do business with, from their accountant, to their lawyer, to their dentist, and add these contacts to the potential donors list.

Turn to technology to help  

Technology can help board members capture opportunities for fund raising as well as setting clear milestones and expectations regarding board fundraising. Technology can help nonprofit board members develop and prospect lists as well as keep the entire organization aware of their efforts without the need for constant emails or telephone calls. While more and more people are using tools like LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter to communicate and develop their network, it’s very likely that many non profit board members are only making limited use of these tools due to lack of experience, knowledge or confidence level. Consider, at your next board meeting to either conduct yourself, or bring in a consultant to conduct basic training on these tools and ask Board Member to use this technology to develop new contacts, reach out to their networks, network to further promote fundraising efforts.

Also consider using your board management technology tools to provide online educational material about fundraising methodologies, goals and expectations to your board members through your centralized online document library. Selecting some of this material for review during each board meeting will make all board members more aware of the resources library you have provided. The more readily available this material is to board members, the more likely they are to read and respond to it.

Motivate your board members to fundraise

Motivation comes from understanding the broader objectives and mission of the organization, but let’s face it, every once in a while, a little “addaboy” doesn’t hurt either. Everyone appreciates being recognized, rewarded and publicly praised for the positive efforts and successes.  Don’t be afraid to celebrate the success and achievement of your nonprofit board members when they accomplish a fundraising goal. Start with simple things such as small gifts as rewards for special efforts, recognition at conferences, or celebrate successes at the start of each board meeting. These small gifts, gestures, and rewards can provide a much needed incentive to reach  fundraising milestones and are motivating to the entire group.  

Measure your nonprofit board’s fundraising performance

Once the board understands what they need to do and how to do it with regards to fundraising and they have a motivational structure in place to do it, it’s important to provide ongoing measurement of their achievement of the nonprofit’s fundraising goals. Using modern web technology to set goals, measure progress and communicate with board members efficiently is much easier than you would imagine and it can streamline the tracking and reporting process. Web based software solutions that help to manage your relationship with the nonprofit board are cost effective and will greatly improve the quality and effectiveness of all communications with your board, in particular, with the ability to measure fundraising targets and completion. Advanced board management software can help to set goals around fundraising, provide reminders of tasks assigned and completion status, and keep the entire board informed of actual results in real-time without requiring emails, phone calls, expensive face to face meetings, or distributing costly printed material.

Start your fundraising engine today

Let’s remember that not all non profit board members are natural born sales people. The notion of soliciting funds from friends, family, associates and strangers can be very daunting. However, with the appropriate organizational structure, setting expectations, conducting training, motivation and measurement there is no reason that your board can’t become a valuable rainmaker for your nonprofit.

Image Source: Michigan Municipal League