Step 4 (continued). Board Fundraising

Graphic showing people sitting in a boardroom at a table.
One of the primary responsibilities of the board is fundraising. This includes both donating money and in-kind gifts to the organization and participating in efforts to obtain outside funds. When all board members give, it demonstrates that all are committed and active in the organization. An organization that can report 100 percent board giving can leverage more donations from other sources. Also, board members often have connections or contacts in the community that make them ideal fundraisers. If they are out advocating for your organization, it will add credibility to your work.

You can expect board members to:

  • Make a financial donation to the organization. This should be expressed early and clearly to all prospective board members. You should not set a minimum or maximum gift level for board members because each member will have a different ability to give. Many organizations suggest that each board member give an amount that is a "stretch" for him or her.
  • Solicit contributions. The "asking" can be done in a variety of ways. They can write grants, identify donors, recruit new members, plan or host fundraising events, network with foundations and businesses, participate in meetings with perspective donors, and write appeal letters. Board members should take on responsibilities based on their skills, connections in the community, and level of comfort with asking for donations. Work with each board member to determine their individual talents, skills, and resources.

However, you cannot expect board members to:

  • "Go out and fundraise" without any clear direction. Board members must be trained and given the background necessary to feel comfortable asking for money for the organization. Make sure to provide them with all the materials and information they need. Make sure they know and can articulate the organization's mission, goals and objectives, programs, and financial needs.
  • Act as a staff member. Remember, board members are not paid staff members, but volunteers who are showing a great commitment to your organization. While you can ask them to help with fundraising efforts and solicit colleagues, make sure that your expectations are realistic and you are not stretching them too thin!

Aside from donating to the organization, here are some examples of ways that board members can get involved:

  • Those with special skills (cooking, writing, kayaking, etc.) can offer "How to" workshops and charge admission. This is especially effective if they are well known.
  • If the board member is a trustee of a foundation or knows a trustee, ask for help in writing a proposal to the foundation.
  • Ask a generous board member to propose a board match. For example, have them challenge the board by saying "I'll donate $1,000 if the rest of the board can come up with $2,000"
  • Ask a board member who owns a restaurant or outfitting company to host a fundraising event.

Citation: See Resources, Works Cited #14

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