7 Things Board Members Can Do to Raise More Money
I am often asked by exhausted board members and executive directors what the board can do to raise more money. My answer, let me tell you right away, is NEVER to launch a new event. Don’t get me started on my anti-events rant, that’s another post.
But there are other things that board members can do to raise significantly more money for their organization, in a much more effective way. Here are seven to get you started.
Make a significant financial investment in the organization. This is so obvious, yet rarely does a nonprofit organization enjoy 100 percent giving from the board. And those that do often have several board members who are only making “token” gifts. If the nonprofit on whose board you serve isn’t on the list of your top three nonprofits and you aren’t allocating your philanthropic dollars accordingly, then get off the board.
2. Open doors
Open up your network to the organization. We all have friends, colleagues, co-workers, family members, neighbors. They may not all be $10,000+ level givers, but you would be surprised at the capacity that probably does exist there. If you really believe in the organization, then spread the word about your involvement to your network and encourage people to become involved. If you’re uncomfortable doing this then perhaps you need to rethink how committed you are to the organization.
3. Get strategic
Demand that your nonprofit creates a strategic plan. Without an articulated direction and a strategy for getting there, how are you going to get donors to invest? So many nonprofit organizations operate without a plan, and that’s probably why they struggle to raise funds. People donate to a cause, but they invest in an executable strategy for impact. The former results in small gifts. The latter brings big dollars.
4. Expand the revenue model
Often nonprofit organizations take a narrow approach to thinking about bringing money in the door. They may have direct-mail campaigns, get some government and foundation grants, and call it a day. Instead, take a bigger-picture view of the business that you are in and the various ways you could finance, not fundraise for, the end goal. Executive and development directors are often so caught up in the day-to-day of funding operations that they don’t have the luxury of taking this big-picture view — that’s where the board can step in.
5. Fund revenue-generating capacity
Make sure the organization invests in sufficient development capacity. Budget for and find a top-notch development director. Secure outside expertise to create a solid, executable development plan. Train the board on its role in fundraising. Don’t ask the organization to cut corners on development expenses because you will just pay the price later.
6. Articulate why someone should give
It’s so obvious to you why you are involved in your nonprofit. But can you articulate that to others in a compelling way? Can you demonstrate how a significant community problem is being solved by your organization? Can you do it in two minutes? Can the other board members and the staff do it? If not, then you need to create a case for support.
7. Get the board on board
Once you’ve done all of these things, get your fellow board members on the boat. The nonprofit sector is structured to be led by consensus. So it isn’t enough for you as a sole board member to “see the light.” You have a responsibility to convince your fellow board members that they can’t think small anymore. They have to invest, get strategic, open doors and so on. Once you are all on the same page, you will be a force to be reckoned with.
If you want a roadmap for making your board more effective, download the “10 Traits of a Groundbreaking Board” e-book.
I promise you, there is an answer. It doesn’t have to be so hard. Board members can help their struggling nonprofits find a path toward financial sustainability.