You want to succeed in your fundraising. One of the best places to begin is with your board. It doesn’t matter what type of board giving policies you have and it’s not important who serves on your board. Every board needs the support and motivation to raise money for their organization. All boards have a fiduciary responsibility to ensure the sustainability of a charity, and leading the giving efforts is a great place to start.
Here are five no-nonsense ways to help your board successfully undertake their responsibility:
- Show Me the Money: It’s a mistake to delegate the financial oversight of a nonprofit to the executive team and the finance committee of the board. It doesn’t matter who serves on the board and whether or not they “like numbers.” When someone serves as a nonprofit board member, they assume certain responsibilities. One of the most important ones is financial oversight. Therefore, nonprofits should make sure to build in ways to make all board members comfortable with the finances of the organization. This means that every board member has to have a good understanding of how the revenue enters into the organization and how monies are spent. This, in turn, allows nonprofit board members to have the knowledge to confidently speak to people outside of the organization with assurance and information.
- What Is Your Annual Gift for This Year?: All board members should support the nonprofit where they serve. Period. It doesn’t matter what type of board you have, with board minimums or not. All board members should expect to support the organization financially. If your board does not have board minimums, have a conversation with new board members or, at the start of a fiscal year, with current board members. Ask for a specific amount based on ability using your best judgment. Many boards work effectively with those of greater means giving more than those of lesser financial means. However, at the end of the day, what you want to tell any funder who asks – and institutional funders in particular will ask – is that you have 100% board giving.
- A Great Way to Say “Thank You”: One of the easiest ways to get your board members involved in fundraising is to have them make calls to major donors. Board members are the link between a community and a nonprofit. They are not earning a salary and are typically involved for altruistic reasons. There is no better person to have call a major donor to thank them for a gift than a board member. Doing so accomplishes two things: 1) It shows that major donor that you appreciate his or her lead gift and thought it so important that a board member is personally calling to acknowledge it; and, 2) It gets board members engaged in the fundraising process. It helps them feel comfortable in a key aspect of successful development.
- Train the Board Each Year: Most nonprofit board members do not come to the job knowing what they are supposed to be doing as board members. Even if they serve on other corporate or nonprofit boards, don’t expect they have a full understanding of their roles and responsibilities versus that of the staff. Therefore, your nonprofit should develop a practice to train the board each year. Many nonprofits do an annual weekend retreat for one or two days where they deal with strategic issues, including board development. It’s always best to have these types of board activities facilitated by an outside expert. Bringing outside counsel helps lend importance, credibility and new perspective to the proceedings.
- Help The Board With the Ask: No matter what you do, some people will never be comfortable asking for money, but would like to help. If you’re the executive director or fundraiser for a nonprofit, I’m sure you have someone on your board that fits the description. A motivated board member who wants to help you but can’t ask for money is still an opportunity. Work closely with this person. Mentor and coach him or her. Help the board member build relationships with key major donors who would be an appropriate match. The board member’s role is to be his or her charming self and help promote your nonprofit. When the time ultimately comes to make an ask, work with the board member on how the process will unfold. Allow the board member to shine in expressing his or her thoughts about the programs of your nonprofit. Then, as the executive or fundraiser, make the ask.
Wayne is the author of “Not Your Father’s Charity: How to DOMINATE YOUR Fundraising to Create YOUR Success” (Free Digital Download)
© 2016 Wayne Elsey and Not Your Father’s Charity. All Rights Reserved.