Building a Fundraising Board
Advice from Tom Dunworth
The question we hear most from board members, executive directors and development officers is “How can we build a strong fundraising board?” Everyone knows you should have one but feel frustrated that their trustees or directors aren’t up to par.
While more money is always better, there are two instances when having a strong fundraising board is essential. The first is when there is a financial crisis. The second is when the organization is planning for a capital campaign. So it is a good thing to build the board’s strength in giving and fundraising well in advance of these two events.
Our experience has shown that every non-profit board has the potential to become a strong fundraising board. We have found that there are predictable strategies that any organization can use. Over the next few weeks and months we will be talking a lot about this matter but, in the meantime, here is how to get started.
Building a Strong Board: Step 1
Organize Around a Strong New Member. Boards that don’t give or raise money do so because some opinion maker in the past told them they didn’t have to. Usually that person had a loud voice and a thin wallet. This old view is often supported by the statement “I give my time to this board; I don’t see why I should have to give money.”
One new board member who has had experience serving on a strong fundraising board can change this attitude for the better. Ideally this woman or man should be seen as someone further up the social/financial ladder than your current board members. The new recruit’s presence will be felt immediately. Their ‘we can do that’ attitude will soon become infectious. Other members will notice that they are not constrained by the old status quo. It quickly becomes fashionable to act like them. People will ask to serve on committees with them.
Little by little the new strong member will begin retraining the board. And then, with a little prodding, they will help to recruit some of their friends.
The arrival of this individual is often the result of happenstance. However, you don’t have to wait around for good luck to strike. You can go out and recruit these people directly exactly as you would identify and cultivate a potential major donor.
We have found that every organization can find this kind of champion. They may be someone whose family has benefitted from the organization’s work. They may be someone’s best friend. They may be someone who will respond to the challenge of trying to upgrade the board. In any case, the first step in changing things is to find that person.
Believe it or not, one person can begin to turn things around.
Read Part 2 of this topic here.