Engaging the Board of Trustees
* Are they the right people? Once you have clarified what your fundraising proposition is, and the size and scale of your ambition, you need to be confident that your current board of trustees are the right people to make it happen.
Remember, boards are often not recruited with a specific fundraising remit. Your organisation needs lots of different skills sets (in addition to fundraising) on the board to operate. Are your trustees well connected to prospective donors, and are they willing and able to help you in this way? Be sure that they are the right people to help you — before you spend time and energy convincing them why they should.
* Does it have to be the board? If your board is not bulging with budding major-donor fundraisers (and most aren’t), you can still succeed. You just need to find some fans who are willing to help you to fundraise. Many charities find that their best connected people are very busy and therefore unwilling to join any official boards/committees — but they are happy to work with you individually to raise money for a cause that they feel passionately about. Look to groups of people who might be able to help — existing donors, advisers, high-profile people, celebrities associated with your cause who could lead you to connections worth exploring.
What can you do?
Major-donor fundraising through a board of trustees or senior-level volunteers is just one route to raising major gifts. Staff can and should also able to play an important role. You could enhance your major-donor activity by developing a staff-led major-donor programme. This involves proactively cultivating your lower-level donors who do something that indicates a special interest in you and a capacity to support you at a higher level. I suggest that you pay special attention to donors who: