Achieving Fundraising Goals With Board Members
Years ago, I played high school football. We were not the largest or fastest team. In some ways, we may have not been the most talented, but I guarantee we were the most prepared. Each player knew their role and was focused on achieving team success. We practiced hard, were graded on individual achievement and had clear performance expectations. The fact that my West Virginia High School football team won three straight state championships is a testament to the collective effort and ability to achieve goals.
What does this have to do with fundraising? Like football, nonprofits stare at a fiscal year financial scoreboard every week. One way nonprofits can enhance fundraising programs is to have a nonprofit board that is individually and collectively dedicated to fundraising results. How do you get your board members to embrace fundraising as a major component of their board responsibility?
Board Members and Fundraising
The author of this article published in Philanthropy Daily states that in her work with nonprofit boards, most have limped along with much room for improvement. To avoid limping along from your board members, you need to set clear board expectations from the outset. She outlines 10 basic things that your board members should be expected to do:
- Provide fiduciary oversight.
- Provide ongoing strategic counsel and advice.
- Make your organization their philanthropic priority.
- Connect you to givers and others who can be helpful to your cause.
- Attend and prepare for board meetings.
- Serve on and occasionally lead board committees.
- Not micromanage or undermine the CEO.
- Attend major organizational events.
- Provide occasional support for other fundraising efforts.
Gail Perry notes that the following are reasonable activities every board member can and should do: make a proud, personal annual gift; understand your organization’s fundraising program and strategies; help thank donors; communicate with donors; help identify prospective donors and open doors with them; help cultivate donors; ask for contributions; support all fundraising activities and the fundraising team; ensure that fundraising has adequate resources and support, plus invite friends; and show up at organizational events.
Aplos provides ways board members can get into fundraising:
- Thank-you calls. Schedule a phone-a-thon or just call donors to thank them.
- Signing letters and thank-you cards.
- Making introductions and opening doors.
- Participate as a speaker in public engagement as a representative of the nonprofit.
- Take people out to lunch with a staff member.
- Host a small event in your home.
- Leverage their own business resources.
- Volunteer at fundraising events.
- Make a challenge gift to leverage the gift with others.
- Delivering donor recognition gifts.
The Fundraising Authority shows a football goal post on the cover of his blog. The author asks if your nonprofit struggles to meet its annual fundraising goals. He has worked with many nonprofits over time and has noticed five attributes that successful fundraising nonprofits always have in common.
These attributes include setting firm deadlines and responsibilities for every task to be done and assign responsibility for each task to one or more people. They focus on individual donors because that is where most of the money is located. They track donors through the fundraising funnel, which is a defined series of steps leading to an ask and close. They know when and where to make an ask. They build fundraising networks starting with their boards. They focused on personal contacts and ask for referrals to donor’s friends and colleagues. They tell a great story and cast a huge vision, inviting donors to invest in their story and future.
Like a football team, board members for any nonprofit represent a team dedicated to advancing a nonprofit through the acquisition of time, talent and treasure. Every nonprofit board member before agreeing to serve on a board must agree to their role in the fundraising process. This may be identifying a prospect, rating and screening prospects, opening doors, telling a story or asking for a gift. They represent the organization in a unique and powerful way.
If these board members accept their fundraising role with focus and acceptance, I cannot guarantee a state championship but can predict a powerful collective experience with the generation of increased financial results for your nonprofit.
Duke has extensive experience as a nonprofit practitioner, author, lecturer and consultant. He has been a contributing author to NonProfit PRO for the last 11 years. He has been a long-standing member of the Association of Fundraising Professionals where he was previously named the AFP Indiana Chapter Fundraising Executive of the Year and has held the CFRE designation for many years.
He received his doctorate degree from West Virginia University with an emphasis in education administration, master's degree from Marshall University with an emphasis in public administration and a bachelor's degree from West Virginia University with an emphasis in marketing/management. He has also completed post graduate work at the University of Louisville.
He is currently executive director of development for The Salvation Army Indiana Division in Indianapolis, Indiana. Contact Duke at email@example.com or 317-224-1029.