Building a Fundraising Board
Advice from Tom Dunworth
This is part 2 of a series on how to build a fundraising board. To start at the beginning, go to How to Build a Fundraising Board, Part 1.
We were talking last time about how you can begin to upgrade the fundraising ability of your board by finding one individual, one champion, and inviting them onto the board. The question a lot of people asked was “How do we find that person and how can we make them interested in working with us?”
The other question we received was “Who should start the process of finding that champion?”
Finding a Board Champion
The answers to both questions are connected. If a board is not giving and raising money there are almost always strong minded people on that board who think that is a good state of affairs. It is pointless to talk with them about anything that challenges the status quo. Rather, I suggest that the executive director and or chief development officer (and sympathetic board member if you can find one) begin the process of change. The first step is to make a list of potential “champions.”
By all means remain discreet about your work.
As we mentioned last time, you identify a potential board “champion” the same way you identify a potential major donor; through electronic and community research. In other words, start looking and asking!
Upgrading the Board’s Fundraising Capacity
If you are lucky enough to be on a board that, in fact, wants to upgrade its fundraising capacity, then formally ask every member to suggest, in writing, the names of people that could be solicited for board membership. Explain the criteria. Someone on your board will always know someone. They may not have confidence that the person will agree to join, but they can open the door.
You know you have a likely candidate if the first reaction to their name is “they would never join our board.” Remember, you a looking for someone to help you change things.
Hopefully you will have a list of three to five individuals who you think can help you activate change. Some may have direct connections to your organization, some may have none. Review those names and ask yourselves the question “ How could we convince this person to join us? What would motivate them?”
The strongest motive will be a personal familiarity with your organization. Did they or their family ever use the service your organization provides? Do they have a friend who has benefitted from what you do? However, we have known people who just respond to the challenge to do something important for a quality community institution.
If you are unsure about how to persuade the person, the best bet is to call and set up a time to meet and talk. Before you describe the task you want them to do, ask them “Are you familiar with SAY THE NAME OF YOUR INSTITUTION. You may find a more important connection than you thought.
The best way to recruit anyone to a board is to
- Explain the importance of your mission and Case for Support;
- Convince them of your own personal passion for what you do; and
- Tell them how they can make a difference.