What’s a Board Member To Do?

Having worked with hundreds of board members in all kinds of organizations we really understand the challenges that board members face in their fundraising efforts.

Maricar Boyle

So we sought the guidance of Maricar Boyle, MPA and Assistant Director of Corporate and Private Foundation Relations at Children’s Hospital and Research Center Foundation.

Boyle is a fundraising professional who has also served as a volunteer board member and board chair. She knows about fundraising from both sides and offers her words of wisdom.

Saad & Shaw: Based on your experience as both a board member and as a fundraising professional, what advice can you offer our readers about how to strengthen the partnership between fundraising staff and board members?

Maricar Boyle: It is important to understand that board members and staff are mutually responsible for the success of the organization. One way to strengthen the partnership between staff and board members is to learn about the specific roles that each individual plays within the organization, especially when it comes to the fundraising process.

The fundraising roles that board members fulfill vary from board to board. Roles can include responsibility for identifying potential donors, or serving as a spokesperson for the organization, or being present when it’s time to ask for a gift to the organization. When it comes to this last point – asking for a gift – it is always important to know in advance who will ask for a gift and who will close the meeting.  Highly successful fundraising campaigns have always been borne out of a combined effort between board members and staff (and a good strategic plan!).

Saad & Shaw: What is your experience with board members as fundraisers? What makes a board member willing to fundraise?

Maricar Boyle: Having served on three non-profit boards to date, the organizations I served and continue to serve were very clear about board member expectations from the very beginning. There was no ambiguity, especially if you were expected to personally contribute and help in fundraising. That was important to me. My willingness to raise funds as a volunteer really stemmed out of my belief in the mission of the organization and the desire to see it succeed.

Saad & Shaw: What advice would you give  board members at this particular point in time?

Maricar Boyle: Be an active participant in ensuring that the organization you serve continues to advance its mission. Ask questions. Volunteer to be on committees — especially on the Fund Development Committee. Ask to be trained by staff in the art and beauty of asking for money for a cause you truly believe in — it will be incredibly rewarding.

© Mel and Pearl Shaw 2010.

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