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Downes Murray International News

The four key fundraising roles of your board of directors

Are you and your board members ‘on the same page’ when it comes to their role as fundraisers? Joe Garecht reports.

Far too many non-profit fundraisers approach board fundraising as if they have boards full of movers and shakers who know how to raise money, even when that’s not the case.

These fundraisers and non-profit managers get annoyed and frustrated with their boards, which doesn’t help anyone, including the organisation itself.

Acting like your board is something it is not doesn’t help, and only leads to constant turnover and frustration.

Here’s the real truth about boards: any non-profit board . . . including yours . . . can be immensely helpful with your fundraising efforts.

But, in order to be successful, your entire team needs to understand the proper role of the board in fundraising. I have found that there are four key fundraising roles your board members can play that will help your non-profit immensely:

1. The board as fundraising visionaries (leadership)

One of the primary roles of your board when it comes to fundraising is as visionaries, providing leadership for your fundraising strategy and programme.

The board should be charting a path forward by deciding whether your organisation will be growing, shrinking, or maintaining the status quo in terms of programmes and services. This directly impacts your fundraising goals.

The board should also be setting broad fundraising goals for the organisation, in consultation with the staff, as well as making sure that there are firm deadlines behind your fundraising strategy.

And, one of the most important roles of the board as fundraising visionaries, is to make sure that the fundraising programme has the people, budget and other resources that it needs to meet the organisation’s revenue goals.

2. The board as donors

The second major role of the board when it comes to fundraising is as donors to the organisation.

You’ve heard this before, I’m sure, but it is important to remember that your goal as a non-profit should be to have 100% board giving. Every board member should be donating something to your organisation every year.

100% board giving sets a good example and shows the staff, volunteers and other donors that the board is committed to the cause and to fundraising for the cause.

When board giving is less than 100%, it makes donors, including foundations and other institutional givers, wonder whether something might be wrong at the organisation that they don’t know about.

3. The board as fundraising ambassadors

The third and most important fundraising role of your non-profit’s board is that each and every one of your board members should be serving as fundraising ambassadors for your organisation. Board members may run away when you tell them they need to fundraise, but almost every board member will agree to serve as an ambassador for your non-profit.

What does it mean to be an ambassador for your organisation? It means that your board members should help you make connections with people that you don’t already know. Your job, as a fundraiser, is to then cultivate and communicate with these new people that you are introduced to, and slowly walk them down the path to becoming more involved with your non-profit, and ultimately to becoming a donor.

Your board can be a huge help in expanding your donor network and building new, lifelong donor relationships for your organisation – if you give them the tools, training, and motivation to do it the right way.

4. The board as fundraising support

The fourth and final role for your board in terms of fundraising is to play a supporting role in your fundraising efforts. Board members often enjoy this role the most, as it allows them the chance to make a real impact on your organisation’s fundraising without the pressure of making introductions or asks.

Your board members can serve as a great support to your fundraising team in lots of different ways, including going along on fundraising meetings, making thank you calls to donors, and attending events to meet other donors in person.

The best way to ensure that your organisation maximises the fundraising effectiveness of your board is to make sure that both your staff and your board understands these four key roles. Every single member of your board can and should be playing a vital role in your fundraising efforts.

With acknowledgement to Joe Garecht.

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