2020 July

The Board’s Role in Fundraising

Things to Remember:

  • The number one reason why people do not donate to an organization is that they are not asked to do so. (Faith-based organizations — churches, etc. — receive 32 percent of all giving because they ask for donations every week.)
  • Involvement invites investment.
  • The board must role model giving behavior for other prospects and donors to follow.
  • All fundraising is local. (Ensure your board represents your geography/service area, the major employers in your community, your legislative districts, etc.)
  • You may need to teach philanthropy before you can fundraise.
  • No organization owns a donor.
  • No donor gives away his or her last $500 (or $5,000).
  • You seldom get more than what you ask for.
  • Fundraising is about building and maintaining relationships — it is a marathon, not a sprint.
  • It’s much easier to get more money from an existing donor than $1 from a non-donor.

Board member activities – What you can do:

  • Cultivate ten new friends each year.
  • Send a letter to suspects/prospects in your community.
  • Call donors to thank them for their gifts. (Donors want prompt acknowledgment of their gift, confirmation that their gifts have been set to work as intended, and measurable results showing what effect their gift has had.)
  • Drop a personal note to lapsed donors.
  • Identify prospects for cultivation events.
  • Donate to the best of your ability.
  • Identify and recruit future board members who are willing to fundraise.
  • Speak frequently about your organization and its programs and purpose. (Chuck provides a worksheet on how to articulate the value your organization brings to its community in the session materials linked below.)
  • Accompany staff on solicitation/cultivation visits.
  • Join your bequest society and provide a testimonial.
  • Identify potential corporate donors.

Other tidbits:

  • Assess your board’s fundraising culture — Chuck provides an easy-to-use tool in the session materials — then create and support a culture of fundraising.
  • If you have a board member who is not willing to cultivate and steward gifts within his or her network, he or she should not be on the board. Having the right board is critical for effective fundraising.
  • Place fundraising on all of your board meeting agendas to discuss accomplishments and challenges. Publicly acknowledge board members involved in the process.
  • Ensure adequate staff support and staff resources for successful fundraising.
  • Include fundraising education in your board development activities.
  • Have all board members sign a board expectations statement that includes fundraising expectations, which should not be give get, but rather give and get.
  • The development committee’s role is help the staff engage the full board in fundraising — not to handle all of the board’s fundraising responsibilities.
  • Board members can be great fundraisers and never ask for money. Ninety percent of fundraising work is cultivation; 10 percent is ask.
  • Only way to grow your fundraising is to through donor retention and stewardship.
  • Donors worried about giving large gifts to young organizations without a history can set their money aside in donor-advised funds with community foundations, with instructions on how the money should be used if the organization fails.
  • Every well-established organization should have a planned giving program and “Make a bequest now” button on its website.

Chuck Loring, CFRE, senior governance consultant, from a 2017 BoardSource Leadership Forum


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