“Should my board help me raise funds?” The obvious answer is yes of course they should! Now comes the hard part. Getting the board to actually raise money is much more difficult than just saying they should. Many nonprofit organizations, of all sizes and mission types, overlook the basic steps needed to engage the board of directors in effective fundraising. The following nine tips will get your board on the right track. And there is a bonus attached. Once your board has mastered these eight steps, they’ll be engaged, engaged, and truly making a difference!

Tip #1: Make sure the agency is worth raising money for. The board’s primary responsibility is to govern the agency and make sure it delivers on its promise. That means the board of directors sets direction, defines the vision, mission, goals and objectives, and holds the CEO or CEO accountable for achieving results. It is emphatically not the board’s job to volunteer, stuff envelopes, provide free legal or accounting services, although they may do such things if the board as a whole decides they must. He is the board’s work represents the constituents your agency serves and demands excellence from agency performance. Once the board has clearly defined its leadership role, then and only then will it be ready to start raising money.

Tip #2: Involve your hearts and your wallets. If you serve on a non-profit board, then that is why you believe in that organization. Therefore, the agency should be one of the main recipients of your personal donations. The board’s second step toward fundraising is to institute a “give or take” policy, whereby board members write a check or find others to write checks on their behalf. If the board member cannot afford to give the required amount, he can raise the money from others. Board members who are unwilling to invest in the agency’s financial future may not be the best candidates for board service. give and take policies need not be overly demanding; giving can start as low as you like.

Tip #3: Write a strong case statement to give. It’s not fair to sit back and assume that board members know how, or why, to raise money for your agency; give them the right support. Provide an effective Case Statement, a document that ‘makes the case’ in support of the agency. The case statement begins with the agency’s mission statement and then goes beyond it. It should cover both “economic” and “emotional” appeal. The emotional appeal informs potential donors about the good works the charity is doing and commits their hearts. Financial appeal tells donors why the charity’s work contributes to the economy, is “gift-worthy,” and puts their wallets at risk. Your Case Statement may include a description of funding levels or even specific purposes for which you need funding. Make sure every board member has copies of this document, and be sure to review and revise it every year.

Tip #4: Outline the types of donors you’d like to attract. Describe your ideal donor, including details about the demographics of donors most likely to donate, such as age, ZIP code, wealth level, previous donation history, etc. Then include the interests, passions or convictions of your ideal donor. Document this profile as a benchmark or guide for qualifying new donors. Once you have developed the ideal funder/donor profile, use it as a reason to Exclude unskilled opportunities, as well as include the right ones. This reduces the likelihood of board members wasting time with unqualified leads.

Tip #5: Board members know people. Develop an initial list of potential donors by asking board members to identify people they can contact on behalf of your agency. Getting a name out of the newspaper is not the best place to start; the board member must use her personal influence to initiate the process. Provide board members with your ideal donor profile ahead of time and ask “who do you know that looks like this profile?” Board members can and should use their connections and influence to schedule meetings and discussions with these people. This exercise may test some of the board members. If no one on your board has community influence or contacts, it may be wise to find new board members who do.

Tip #6: Staff collect grants; the board raises philanthropy. Nonprofit organizations raise money from four types of income: grants, fee-for-service (earned income), philanthropy, and corporate partnerships. Staff are better prepared to pursue grant opportunities and earned income; let them do it. The board, on the other hand, is better suited to raising money from individual philanthropy (individual donations of any size) and from corporations. First, have staff calculate how much they need to earn from each funding category, then describe and prioritize their specific funding needs. (By the way, “we just need more money” isn’t a need, it’s a complaint.) Once staff have defined their funding needs, prioritized them, and determined which needs are best met by philanthropy or corporate giving, the board can begin to plan their schedule of calls and visits. Make sure there is a donor profile ideal for wealthy individuals and another specifically for corporate partnerships or sponsorships.

Tip #7: Encourage them to take advantage of their contacts. Board members know a lot of people. Make sure they feel comfortable approaching their contacts on your behalf. Remind them that they may know wealthy people, people who like to volunteer, corporate executives looking for charities to align with, or people who want to serve on boards. Make your board members feel comfortable reaching out to their contacts and connections. This can be especially helpful if the board member is familiar with the founder or director of a family foundation.

Tip #8: Help them ask for money. Some board members may feel uncomfortable asking for donations. Help them by providing your Case Statement, Ideal Donor Profile, and a list of funding needs. Organize some training. Schedule participation in a class, bring in an outside expert, or set aside time (inside or outside of board meetings) for board members and staff to practice, rehearse, and spar with each other until you ‘make the request’ feel natural. Revenue development is a professional skill and it is not fair to assume that all board members have the same skills or talents for the job.

Tip #9: Track performance. Set specific performance targets for fundraising, using so-called “leading” metrics, ie metrics that take place before the money even walks in the door. Consider indicators such as the growth in the size of the prospecting database and the growth in the number of pitches being discussed with wealthy individuals and prospective corporate sponsors. The Executive Director must collate such data periodically and report on it at each board meeting. Constant attention to the realities of the fundraising process will institute important discipline for all.

Fundraising is a critical and strategic function that needs and deserves strong leadership. It’s not “someone else’s” job, it’s everyone’s. And it’s not enough to simply assume that board members will do the job without being asked, without tools, and without training. We encourage board members to take this message to heart and use these simple tips to create effective fundraising disciplines.

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