The Four Key Fundraising Roles of Your Board of Directors

by Joe Garecht

Four Fundraising Roles

Far too many non-profit fundraisers approach board fundraising as if they have boards full of movers and shakers who know how to raise money, even when that’s not the case.

These fundraisers and non-profit managers get annoyed and frustrated with their boards, which doesn’t help anyone, including the organization itself.  Acting like your board is something it isn’t doesn’t help, and only leads to constant turnover and frustration.

Here’s the real truth about boards:  any non-profit board… including yours… can be immensely helpful with your fundraising efforts.  But, in order to be successful, your entire team needs to understand the proper role of the board in fundraising.  I have found that there are four key fundraising roles your board members can play that will help your non-profit immensely:

The Board as Fundraising Visionaries (Leadership)

One of the primary roles of your board when it comes to fundraising is as VISIONARIES, providing leadership for your fundraising strategy and program.  The board should be charting a path forward by deciding whether your organization will be growing, shrinking, or maintaining the status quo in terms of programs and services.  This directly impacts your fundraising goals

The board should also be setting broad fundraising goals for the organization, in consultation with the staff, as well as making sure that there are firm deadlines behind your fundraising strategy.  And, one of the most important roles of the board as fundraising visionaries is to make sure that the fundraising program has the people, budget and other resources that it needs to meet the organization’s revenue goals.

The Board as Donors

The second major role of the board when it comes to fundraising is as DONORS to the organization.  You’ve heard this before, I’m sure, but it is important to remember that your goal as a non-profit should be to have 100% board giving.  Every board member should be donating something to your organization every year.

100% board giving sets a good example and shows the staff, volunteers and other donors that the board is committed to the cause and to fundraising for the cause.  When board giving is less than 100%, it makes donors, including foundations and other institutional givers, wonder whether something might be wrong at the organization that they don’t know about.

The Board as Fundraising Ambassadors

The third and most important fundraising role of your non-profit’s board is that each and every one of your board members should be serving as FUNDRAISING AMBASSADORS for your organization.  Board members may run away when you tell them they need to fundraise, but almost every board member will agree to serve as an ambassador for your non-profit.

What does it mean to be an ambassador for your organization?  It means that your board members should help you make connections with people that you don’t already know.   Your job, as a fundraiser, is to then cultivate and communicate with these new people that you are introduced to, and slowly walk them down the path to becoming more involved with your non-profit, and ultimately to becoming a donor.

Your board can be a huge help in expanding your donor network and building new, lifelong donor relationships for your organization – if you give them the tools, training, and motivation to do it the right way.

The Board as Fundraising Support

The fourth and final role for your board in terms of fundraising is to play a SUPPORTING role in your fundraising efforts.  Board members often enjoy this role the most, as it allows them the chance to make a real impact on your organization’s fundraising without the pressure of making introductions or asks.

Your board members can serve as a great support to your fundraising team in lots of different ways, including going along on fundraising meetings, making thank you calls to donors, and attending events to meet other donors in person.

The best way to ensure that your organization maximizes the fundraising effectiveness of your board is to make sure that both your staff and your board understands these four key roles.  Every single member of your board can and should be playing a vital role in your fundraising efforts.

This article originally appeared as a guest post on the Donor Path Blog.  Photo Credit: Jukka Zitting


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