Fundraising in an Imperfect World– Part One
What do you do if your board doesn’t have the connections, experience or willingness to be involved in fundraising? How will your nonprofit secure the money and resources it needs to deliver on its mission?
We encourage board-led fundraising. We believe that when board members are actively involved in fundraising the nonprofit organization or institution will be more successful. Board-led fundraising includes active involvement in determining fundraising goals; identifying, cultivating, soliciting and stewarding donors; making a gift of their own; and engaging others in giving and fundraising.
But what if your board is reluctant to fundraise or simply refuses to “give and get?” There are many reasons for this response. Members may not have been recruited to fundraise. They may be engaged in campaigns for other nonprofits. They may not know how to provide guidance and direction as it relates to fundraising.
If you find yourself in this position here are 10 things you can do as a nonprofit executive:
- Appeal to your board to increase their participation in fundraising in spite of original board responsibilities which might not include fundraising
- Visit each board member individually to learn more about the “hidden gems” – those ways an individual board member could be of service, or the reasons for reluctance to fundraise
- Take your board on “field trips” to observe other nonprofit boards in action
- Ask board members to recruit someone they know – who has experience fundraising – to work with each as a partner. Working in teams with colleagues from outside the board can build capacity and expertise.
- Develop an alternative fundraising group such as a development taskforce, advisory council, special development committee of the board, or friends committee. These are people who can open doors, solicit, and provide guidance and strategy. They should be recruited with an explicit request to assist with fundraising.
- Hire a consultant to work with the board to help increase their knowledge of fundraising responsibilities and ability to participate in fundraising
- Assume more responsibility for fundraising. You and your staff will have to be more active and proactive.
- Scale your fundraising needs/goals to meet the capacity of board members and staff.
- Work with board members to determine which fundraising projects they could take the lead on. This can help build experience and confidence and hopefully increase their appetite for more involvement. Don’t involve board members in a big project they don’t have the capacity or experience to achieve.
- Keep the board informed on a consistent basis regarding the status of fundraising, funds received, prospective donors identified, potential shortfalls or surpluses and the implications.
We live in an imperfect world. Work with your board, recognize their strengths and offset their challenges.
Image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Mel and Pearl Shaw are the authors of “Prerequisites for Fundraising Success” and “The Fundraiser’s Guide to Soliciting Gifts.” They provide fundraising counsel to nonprofits. Visit them at http://www.saadandshaw.com. Follow them on Twitter: @saadshaw.