I saw this title to a blog recently and thought, “Wow, three words in one sentence that make most board members shudder: Nonprofit – Board – Fundraising.” For far to many board members they’d rather die than be asked to be on the fundraising committee. “Let me help out with program or communications or governance issues, but please don’t ask me to ask for money.”
And the number one complaint by Nonprofit CEO’s and Development Staff are board members who won’t fundraise. Why is this so hard? I had an acquaintance recently tell me of his experience on a board. He didn’t realize when he joined the board that he would be so uncomfortable with the prospect of fundraising and he resigned rather than try his hand at it.
The author of the blog went on to briefly list three things that help to effectively involve board members in fundraising. They deserved more discussion.
- Clearly define and communicate expectations. Sometimes people are recruited to a board without explicitly spelling out expectations. The organization is eager to fill board spots and doesn’t communicate the fundraising responsibility that goes along with the job for fear they will scare the person off, and then are disappointed when the new leader doesn’t clamor to help raise money. Board job descriptions need to be specific. Board members should be expected to give and the amount or the range should be stated. They also need to help draw resources to the nonprofit by actively participating in fundraising events.
- Appropriately equip them with the training and resources needed. As fundraising professionals we spend a lot of time learning the latest best practice for our profession. We attend conferences, hear presentations through our professional associations and take trainings. All designed to make us better fundraisers. But how much time do we spend training our board members for their fundraising responsibilities? It’s rare to find a natural fundraiser among your volunteers. Let your board know you’re there to help and provide all the support and training they need and then hold their hand through the process.
- Sufficiently empower them to execute those specific responsibilities. Board members should feel confident as they step outside their comfort zone to make that critical ask. Help them learn to express their own passion for the mission. Create board mentors who have been through the process before, who can provide advice and support as the volunteer new to fundraising makes that first foray into the unknown. As they gain confidence they will find that their own excitement and commitment to the cause will make asking easy and fun.
Jane Kuechle is an independent consultant to nonprofit organizations and to individuals who want to make a difference. To read more of her work and connect with her visit her blog: http://www.kuechleconsulting.com/blog/