The old cliché for nonprofit Board members is “give, get, or get out.” This adage may be appropriate for your organization, but each nonprofit and their respective Board should be unique. Not every Board member can be a rainmaker, or has deep pockets. They should however be involved, committed, and bring something to the table. The Board’s primary focus should be organizational governance and strategic planning, but there should also be fundraising aspects. Preceding fundraising actions, proper recruiting, onboarding, and training are paramount to the success of each Board member’s efforts. Below are three fundraising ideas for your nonprofit’s Board to assist in fundraising.
Set goals and expectations
A personal fundraising and development plan for each Board member is a great tool for encouraging accountability and evaluating the Board member, as well as being instrumental in your organization’s budget. This plan should document the Board member’s intention of giving (dollar amounts for personal, corporate, and sponsorships), commitments to donor activities (write thank you notes, make fundraising calls, provide major donor suggestions, arrange meetings with donors, etc.), volunteer efforts, and any other commitments that directly and indirectly relate to fundraising. Not every Board member is flush with cash, but everyone should contribute something to the nonprofit that they have agreed to serve. Once complete, the Board member should sign the plan and it should be used in the annual (or otherwise regular) evaluation process.
Sometimes it takes a push to get commitments from Board members. The more active the Board, the better the results will be from a fundraising perspective, as well as from a general governance perspective. An easy way to get commitments from Board members is to have a list of the year’s planned events with various opportunities to participate such as major sponsor, volunteer, commitments to bring in X number of sponsors, sell X number of tickets, non-cash contributions, contact major donors, make thank-you phone calls, etc. Each Board member should be encouraged to sign up to be involved in some capacity at each event.
Start small to build confidence
Not every Board member will hit a homerun on their first year with your nonprofit. Like your organization, each Board member is unique and will learn and contribute differently. For the Board members that don’t have vast experience and aren’t ready to hit the ground running, there are a few things that should be done to prepare them better for success. First, as noted in the above points, get them involved and have them contribute, even if their level of involvement is not as much as the tenured Board members. Easy and simple involvement will help them build the confidence to take on larger roles. To encourage their development and build confidence, consider providing the Board member a mentor or a team of other Board members to help with specific fundraising activities or events. Lastly, provide timely and regular feedback and praise. The praise should not only be for the monetary results, but for all efforts put forth towards fundraising activities. Positive reinforcement will build confidence and feed their passion to continue to help the mission.
I have worked with and served on various nonprofit Boards where certain Board Members are unmotivated, uncommitted, and unwilling to participate in some form of fundraising. When they actually attend meetings or functions, their presence drags everyone else down. If your nonprofit has Board members that are not contributing to the cause, consider replacing them with someone who is passionate about your mission and the results from the positive energy will take your organization to a new level.