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In part one of this series we discussed the difference between staff-led fundraising and volunteer-led fundraising. To generalize, staff-led fundraising is led by staff.  Volunteer-led fundraising is led by volunteers. Now we take on the question “How do you develop a volunteer-led fundraising program?”

Here’s our answer – over time!

It’s not something that happens overnight. It begins with the board and the process of creating an awareness of their fundraising related roles and responsibilities.

If you are a staff person, here’s one way to start engaging your board. Meet individually with each member to share an overview of the organization’s fundraising priorities and how these tie to its mission and vision as well as to daily operations and budgeting. Share where the money comes from. How much comes from foundation grants? From government grants? Get specific. For example, share how many $5,000 gifts the organization hopes to receive this year. How many $50,000 grants? How could changes to state or federal budgets impact expected funding? Let each board member gain an understanding of revenue sources.

During these one-on-one meetings ask each board member how they feel they can contribute. There are many roles a board member can play. They can work on the special events committee, meet with elected representatives, host friend-raisers at their home or office, help redesign the marketing material, create a social media presence, proofread proposals, speak with the leadership of their faith organization to explore the possibility of a gift, write an op-ed piece, secure pro-bono legal services, and of course, write a check and ask others to do the same.

Your job is to ask for suggestions and ideas. And to listen.

After completing these individual meetings update the organization’s formal fundraising plan with information and ideas you have gained. If you don’t have a plan, create one. If you don’t know how to create one, drop us a line and we can send you guidelines. Once your plan is up to date, share the plan with the full board. Let board members talk about what they are planning to do. Let them make their commitments to each other. After the meeting make more adjustments to the plan to reflect discussion of the full board. And then partner with your board chair – or chair of the development committee – to work with board members as they fulfill their commitments.

Once board members begin to get engaged, staff can partner with them to begin the process of engaging volunteers from outside the organization. We’ll cover that in part three.

© Copyright Mel and Pearl Shaw.
Mel and Pearl Shaw are the owners of Saad & Shaw. They help non-profit organizations and institutions rethink revenue sources. They are the authors of How to Solicit a Gift: Turning Prospects into Donors. Visit them at or call (901) 522-8727.

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