Using Board Members to Fundraise: Part 1

November 29, 2007

From conversations that I’ve had with many board members of non-profits there is a bit of a fear about fundraising. (See my article about being afraid of fundraising.) Fundraising does not have to be a scary thing for your board it is all about setting attainable and reasonable goals and having reasonable expectations of your board members.

One of the most important parts of successful fundraising is getting the board involved. Your board no matter how big or how successful needs to be involved in helping you with fundraising. If your board is not behind you and is not willing to help with fundraising it will be very hard to succeed.

I’d love to hear from some of you on stories of creative ways that your board has been involved in fundraising. Every member of your board has connections into the community and a network of friends. Some of your board members may know local businesses or churches or other community groups. Make sure that you are collecting information about other business and groups that your board members are part of.

If you have never used your board to fundraise the important thing is to get them involved. If you have board members that are nervous about fundraising but want to help, a great starting point for them is to have them go with you to talk with a donor or to give them a list of donors to call and say thank you.

MORE TOMORROW- including: How do I involve my board?

Am I talking about things that interest you? If not let me know what you want to here visit my “Ideas, Questions & Answers” page.


Grassroots- A broad brush stroke

November 27, 2007

Grassroots fundraising is the starting place for all kinds of fundraising. Every organization has a group of people that are close to it and that is the best place to start. Think about who those people are, they are the volunteers, the past donors, past staff or in some places clients. Is there a group of people that is part of your history like a body of students? Keep in touch with these people and communicate with them regularly. If you just launched a new program or built a new building let them know about it.

When you are communicating with these individuals let them know what your needs are and what they cost. We call these equivalences. If you are trying to launch a new program to help 100 people, say something like, with a gift of $25 you can help 5 people in this new way. Make your equivalences specific and understandable. Another great tool is to get donors plugged into monthly donations. Many people think that they cannot give $1,000 but if they are giving $85 a month they will give more than a thousand every year.

As you’re donor base grows and you start developing regular campaigns you can start to create your major gifts program. If you find that you have an individual that only gives $100 a year but they have the capacity to give quite a bit more this is a great person to approach. The best approach is to set up a time to meet with them. Thank them for their gifts, talk with them about your organization, do this through stories about people that you are helping, and then ask them for a specific gift. I would connect this gift into a current significant need, make sure that they understand how important to the organization this need is (and how it helps the people in your stories). (Also use board members to make these visits or partner with your board members… I’ll talk about this more in another post… I will also talk in another post about “prospecting” and finding new persons to approach.)

So that is just a few thoughts about grassroots fundraising. I imagine I’ll go into more specific detail on many of these topics at a later time. Let me know if you have a specific question.

Fund Development Job Websites

November 26, 2007

If you are thinking about becoming a Development Officer in the Puget Sound area there are a couple of website that you should know about.

Philanthropy Northwest ( has a great job bank to find local jobs in fund development.

Craigslist ( has a great jobs section to find local non-profit jobs.

Northwest Development Officer’s Association ( is a wonderful resource and a great organization for advice and information on fundraising in the Puget Sound. They have a great job bank for members and have multiple classes, seminars and workshops.

Association of Fundraising Professionals ( is an international organization and is a wonderful global resource.

Idealist ( is a great website for information, jobs and volunteer opportunities.

No need to fear

November 26, 2007

I have talked with a lot of different people about fundraising for their organization. One thing that I have continued to find is that there are a lot of misconceptions about fundraising. I think that everyone has heard all of the horror stories about going door to door and asking you friends and neighbors to give more money than they have ever given before.

My experience with fundraising has been very different. More often than not I am working with individuals or organizations that have already expressed an interest in supporting my cause and I am not asking my friends for money or support of any kind. Fundraising can be a really positive experience and allows non-profits to continue to and increase the work they do.

When getting started my first piece of advice is just do it, people want to be asked and if you do it right it can be an incredible experience.