We hear it all the time. “I wish my Board would fundraise.”
If this feels familiar, you’re not alone. Survey after survey shows that getting the board to fundraise is the number one area that non-profits say needs improvement. Part of the reason is that fundraising is a different skill than most Board members use in their day-to-day lives. Fundraising is also probably not the reason they joined your Board in the first place.
We’ve worked with a lot of organizations that have amazing and dedicated board members. Board members that helped start the organization, who defined the mission and goals, and who were there through good times and bad. These founding board members are invaluable to an organization. But there comes a time for every organization where the board has to transition from a “founding board” to a “funding board.”
Here are our top three tactics for getting there:
- Training – Most board members hate the word fundraising. It’s scary to think about asking people for money. But most of them would not hesitate to make an introduction, talk about your organization, or make a call to thank a donor. Educating board members about the elements of fundraising and their role can go a long way in getting them involved.
- Board Composition – You should always look for new board members that represent a diversity of industries, skills, roles, and perspectives. We recommend evaluating your board composition using a tool like this one that we use to see the gaps in a board. Every person is different, so it’s important to understand how best your individual board members will contribute to fundraising goals. Some will raise it from their networks, some will make a personal gift, and some are going to be better at making introductions and putting together pitches. A successful fundraising board lets everyone contribute in their own way.
- Job Descriptions – Just like employee job descriptions provide a roadmap for managers to set expectations and evaluate performance, board member job descriptions can provide clear direction and let people know exactly what is expected of them. The Bridgespan Group has some great templates for board member job descriptions.
The important thing to remember is that the board is a constant work-in-progress, one that will evolve over time, and along the way, impress you with what they accomplish and their passion for your organization’s mission.