Q & A: Nonprofit Board Fundraising

I was pleased to facilitate a webcast on getting your Board fundraising. There were great folks participating and some questions I thought I would share. Perhaps you have these same questions or others? For resources that will help you get your Board fundraising, click here. For more information via podcast click here.

Q: What is the best way to deal with a board member who is resistant to fundraising?\
BET: Create easy wins. Bring the Board member on a donor cultivation visit where you will and can have a great conversation. Ask all Board members to make thank you calls to current, recent donors. Give them a script or bullet points to make them comfortable. Then take the Board member on a donor solicitation visit. Prepare them. Plan for the meeting and select a visit that you know will go well. Follow up, ask for advice and feedback. Lather, rinse and repeat.

Q: Any thoughts about how to keep board members, especially the chairperson, from micro-managing day-to-day operation?BET: We need to focus the attention of our Board members on fundraising. We do this with participatory Board agendas, fundraising focused discussions, cultivation between Board meetings and treating our Board members like the major donors they want to be. The importance of fundraising needs to be agreed upon by the CEO, Board Chair and Director of Development. The budget does not raise itself and we need to help Board members understand how they can help us meet our budgets.

Q: Barbara what is the AFP fundraising project you mentioned.
BET: Association of Fundraising Professionals Fundraising Effectiveness Project. You can read my blog post about it the project as well as a link to the report.

Q: How do I determine what type of people we need to recruit onto the board?
BET: In the resources on my website, I have provided a Board Attribute Table. This allows you to look at who is currently on your Board, what they bring to the table as well as identify where you have gaps in expertise, knowledge and demographics. This will help you determine, strategically, who to look for. However, if you want to create a fundraising Board, be sure to look at your top donors.

Q: I am developing a form showing the board exactly what their percentage of giving is compared to donors/events…to show them that they aren’t large participators. Is this appropriate to “shame” them in an essence?
BET: Shaming Board members or any donor into giving is probably not the most effective strategy. I prefer to empower them to succeed. This can take the form of one-on-one conversations with each Board member. We need to talk with them about fundraising, their role and responsibility. When you want money ask for advice, when you want advice ask for money.

Q: What’s the best way to add Board names to the database? Should we ask for permission? Or not include them on our monthly newsletter?
BET: In the resources I provided a spreadsheet you can use to engage your Board in strategic list development. The list will be part of your database and this should be made clear to your Board. However, when you put these names in the database, you need to source them to the Board member who gave them to you. And this list should be part of CULTIVATION and solicitation. So mailing or emailing Board member contacts newsletters, emails and information about your organization, must proceed any solicitation.

Q: As a brand new non-profit still recruiting our initial board, would an application and interview process be too formal? Is it appropriate
to launch with very high fund raising expectations from the board?
BET: That is the way to start a fundraising Board! Make a strong case for support. Set expectations and stick to them. Seek out the RIGHT people and ask them to suggest others. If you are a new nonprofit, you should have donors. Start there.

Q: How do development directors cope with an ED and Board that aren’t interested in ANY fund raising?
BET: They look for new jobs. They bring in a consultant to say what they have been saying for months or years.

Q: What is the best way to make a board realize that fundraising is important. There has been no fundraising for 18 months, but the budget
line items do not reflect this as unexpected $$ has been received.
BET: Share the Fundraising Effectiveness Project Report mentioned above. Let them know to continue operations the organization must be proactive in its fundraising to insure the work continues beyond this windfall. Ask what the plan is when the money runs out? I am sure you can find examples of organizations that have closed their doors due to reliance on a single source of income. And there are many more who survived with a plan to actively cultivate and solicit donors, current and prospective.

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