Positioning Your Board for Effective Fundraising
Very few organizations can say their boards are as aggressive in fundraising as they'd like them to be. If you feel that your board might be leaving much-needed money on the table, there are things you can do to enhance its fundraising effectiveness.
In the session "Getting Your Board Happily, Productively and Competently Involved in Fundraising" at the 2009 Bridge Conference held just outside of Washington, D.C., last week, Carol Weisman, president of Board Builders, shared advice on how to get the most ask-averse board members involved and trained in fundraising for your organization.
First, Weisman addressed some concepts that nonprofit staff need to keep in mind. Among them:
1. Board members need to be involved in fundraising. Not all board members are aware that they're expected to fundraise, and fundraising isn’t the reason people join boards. The reasons people join boards are as varied as the board members themselves _ e.g., they might have been personally affected by the cause. But fundraising is, indeed, a board member responsibility.
2. Fundraising doesn't necessarily require asking for money. Board members can get involved anywhere in the fundraising process, not necessarily just "the ask."
"All board members have their own kryptonite," Weisman said. "Ask your folks what they want to do and what they don't want to do. Respect their vulnerability, and ask if they are willing to do something with training and a partner … then listen closely."
3. Time isn't money. A board member's time is of great value; it won't, however, keep the lights on or pay the rent.
4. You can't just form a fundraising board or leadership council to raise money in place of board fundraising.
5. No one has ever died from fundraising. Board members will survive asking someone for money and being turned down.