This is a tricky subject, and a difficult one for many non-profits to address: How can you get your board to raise more money on your behalf?
I’m not talking about “show boards,” those boards of directors that you asked people to be on just so you could attach their name to your cause (usually well known local people)… you knew what you were getting into there, and it wasn’t having the board doing lots of work.
No, what I am talking about is the average non-profit board of directors: a group of people who have some financial means and a decent social network, but who aren’t uber-wealthy, and who got onto the board for the right reason… because they believe in the mission of the organization.
How do you, as an Executive Director, Development Director, Board Chair, or Development Committee Chair, motivate this type of board to raise more money for the organization?
I’ve seen it done very successfully, and it always seems to come down to four key tactics:
#1 – Explaining the Role
First and foremost, board members need to understand that a critical part of their role, as a member of the board, is fundraising. This should be made clear to members as they join the board. If it has not been noted in the past, now is the time for the board chair to (gently) make it known that the organization will not survive without the fundraising efforts of the board. (For more information on explaining the role and setting board fundraising goals, read this article.)
#2 – Explaining the Need
Next, board members need to understand why your organization needs the money. Many organizations do a great job in explaining to board members that they need to raise money, but then never tell the board why you need the money. Nothing is as de-motivating to a fundraiser as knowing what the revenue goal is without knowing what it is being spent on.
Take time to explain to your board what phenomenal programs you will be able to fund with the money they are helping you raise. Paint a picture of what the world will look like if you hit your fundraising goals… and what it will look like if you don’t. Explain that as leaders of the non-profit, you’re counting on them to help serve this need. Motivate them by having them read Thinking Big in Fundraising.
#3 – Making it Easy
The most successful non-profit board fundraising efforts are easy to understand. Set up easy to use fundraising systems for your board.
If you want them to ask for money one-on-one, show them how to do it, give them supporting materials, let them practice with your staff. Better yet, set up a system that makes it easy to ask for money in bite sized chunks: have them ask people to sponsor 1 child for $100 or 5 children for $500… or to sponsor meals at your homeless shelter for $235 per day. Make it easy to “sell.”
Other easy to understand systems you could use include selling event tickets and inviting people to free cultivation events.
#4 – Following Up
The fourth and final key to boosting your board fundraising efforts is to have your staff follow up constantly with the board. Not to hound, but to encourage and support. Regular calls, e-mails, and meetings to motivate your team and keep them apprised of the overall effort will go a long way to keeping people on task raising money for your charity.
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