Three fundraising tips for board members

Summer is often the season for nonprofit board retreats. We have been asked to facilitate a few recently, with a focus on the role of the board in fundraising. Our clients want to know tips, best practices, and specific ways that board members can increase their involvement.

With this column we share with you three suggestions you as a board member – and you collectively as a board – can take.

  1. Know your nonprofit.

Before you become involved with fundraising take time to learn the nuts and bolts of the organization you serve. We know you are committed, but how much do you know about programs, advocacy, impact, staffing, revenue and partnerships? Can you quantify the organization’s impact? Do you know the environment the nonprofit is working in? Most importantly, do you know the executive director’s vision for the organization? Do you believe in it? Are your actions as an individual board member in sync with her vision? Is the board as a collective body organized to advance her vision? Do you know the executive director?

Related to this, do you know what the organization is raising money for? Do you know the current fundraising goal and how funds raised will be used? For example, is the organization expanding specific programs, implementing technology to reach additional families, or funding scholarships to increase the number of women in engineering?

  1. Know your role and know your fellow board members.

You need to know why you were recruited to the board and the role that your fellow board members and the executive director expect you to fulfill. Are these in sync with your understanding? Have you received written information about your role and responsibilities as a board member? If yes, have you read it recently? If not, ask for this. Take time to contemplate and document why you are serving on the board. What skills, experience, resources and relationships do you bring? How and when are you willing to share these? Write these down. Make a commitment to yourself and share it with your fellow board members.

Take the time to personally get to know your fellow board members. Who are they as individuals, family members, professionals, artists, or political leaders? What are their interests and experiences? Where do they live and work? What is their expertise and skills? What do they think about the work of your nonprofit? How do they want to be involved? What are their aspirations? How can you work together? If your board doesn’t already have a “buddy system” consider implementing one. The buddy system is simply a process of teaming board members to work together towards a fundraising goal. Members get to know each other, work together, and to set and reach a fundraising goal. A benefit of the buddy system is increased accountability between and fellowship amongst board members.

  1. Make your own gift first, then ask others to join you.

Once you know why you are giving it is easier to ask others to join you. Talk with people you know and let them know why you are involved with your nonprofit. Share why you give and ask others to make a similar gift. Using the buddy system, work with a fellow board member to host a home or office event to introduce your nonprofit. Ask your friends and family to give in honor of your birthday. Set a goal for how much you want to raise and spend time each month cultivating and soliciting gifts. Download our How To Solicit A Gift free worksheet as you prepare to fundraise (

Here are links to a few other posts that can help you and your board members with fundraising.

Copyright 2018 – Mel and Pearl Shaw

We welcome the opportunity to work with you and your board. Call us at (901) 522-8727 to explore how we can support your fundraising.

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