What is a nonprofit board’s role in fundraising?

How can/should they be involved?

Board members’ specific roles vary from one organization to the next, depending on the nonprofit’s needs and structure. Broadly speaking, however, there is usually an expectation that the board will play some role in fundraising. The trick is ensuring that the nonprofit staff and board members have the same expectation.

Your board members should be actively involved in the development of your fundraising plan. They can be some of your best resources in terms of making introductions, and many times they have business expertise that can be useful in developing a sound plan.

The specific role your board will play should be a key part of your fundraising plan. If you don’t have one already, develop a board fundraising policy in partnership with the board. This establishes the amount each director is expected to give and/or raise, the process for waiving the requirement (for example, if your board includes clients), additional expectations (such as captaining a table at an annual dinner) and the range of ways in which board members can support fundraising.

In addition to committing funds, here are a few other ways your board members can be involved

  • Identify new prospects and opportunities for fundraising
  • Identify and cultivate high-net-worth donor
  • Sell tickets to an annual dinner or event
  • Make introductions to potential donors and corporate sponsors
  • Host special meetings or events
  • Accompany the executive director to key meetings with potential donors.

It’s important to recognize that not all board members are going to be experienced fundraisers. In fact, some of them may resist the idea. Work with each member to identify the ways she or he is most comfortable bringing resources and people to the organization. It all starts from the mission and speaking from the heart about the difference being made. Consider offering training sessions to increase your directors’ capacity and comfort level. The Center for Nonprofit Management (www.cnmsocal.org) and BoardSource (www.boardsource.org) offer a number of trainings to address these issues. And for a free approach, try role-playing exercises at your next meeting or retreat. They can provide a great way to understand (and refine) the messages being delivered and boost confidence.

Fundraising FAQ

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