Boards: The Secret Superheroes of Fundraising
Whenever I bring up the subject of boards, so many fundraisers roll their eyes. Why are boards such a huge pain point — and what can we do about it?
You have to face reality about some sensitive topics — people, motivation, volunteers and commitment — rather than chase after some myth of the ideal board. Be realistic and see what you really can expect from board members — particularly in the area of fundraising. Get your expectations in the right order and you'll have a happy relationship — and a productive one — with your board.
Here's what you can count on — and what you can't — with your board members.
What you can count on
1. Most board members really do want to help. They just don't know how. It's up to you to make it easy for them. You'll need to motivate, guide and support them. If you make this investment of your time and energy, then you'll have a gold mine of great board members on your hands.
2. Most board members are open to and even enjoy education. They don't like "training," but they do like "education." June Bradham, author of "The Truth About What Nonprofit Boards Want," says that the word "training" makes them feel like seals. Most board members are eager to do a good job and want to know what their jobs are. The clearer your job expectations are for board members, the more you'll get out of your board.
3. Most board members are capable of being terrific friendmakers if they know the right thing to say and they are pumped up. But you need to teach them what friendmaking is all about, or they could go in the wrong direction.
4. Most board members are happy to help thank donors. In fact, they love it! And you can increase donors' future gifts if your board members make thank-you calls quickly to donors.