A nonprofit’s board of directors plays a pivotal role in advancing the organization’s mission and shaping its success. This group composed of people with varying degrees of personalities, expertise, and network are in charge of establishing strategic direction, bringing in necessary resources, sharing their knowledge, and even performing some needed tasks. Their enthusiasm and drive are palpable in board meetings, suggesting courses of action and dropping names from their network.
Unfortunately, talks on fundraising, which is vital for a nonprofit, are sometimes met with halfhearted proposals, noncommittal answers, and finger-pointing. It would be easier to find affordable accommodation in London. As stewards of the organization, board members should be the first in line to give a personal contribution.
The survey organized by BoardSource, a recognized leader in nonprofit board leadership, showed that less than half of nonprofits reach the magic number of board participation. If the people who are supposed to be advocates of the mission are not sold on donating to the cause, then what are the chances for the nonprofit to inspire others outside of the organization to be a committed donor?
Hope is not lost if nonprofit management finds its board members not involved enough in the fundraising process. A culture of giving and engagement is possible to build where everyone helps in gathering resources out of a personal mission and not just because of compliance. Your board members might not feel that connected to the mission yet and see the full extent of their impact. Here are a few ways to remind them why they joined the nonprofit in the first place and ease them into fundraising.
1. Understand the personalities and networks of your board members
Everyone has their strengths and weaknesses, and board members are not exempt from this fact. It is up to the executive director and the staff to gauge which type of fundraising a particular board member will be good at. Not everyone is outgoing and friendly, who can quickly convince people how great the mission is. Some people are private and thoughtful, thriving in situations where they can talk about their passion with a small group of people rather than a large group. As a diagnostics test, you can use this quiz by Asking Matters to find out the asking style of your board members.
2. Include the board in program events and in celebrating milestones
Board members need to be included in the thick of all activities, instead of just in quarterly meetings. Ask them to accompany the program units on the field so they can hear the stories of the people helped by the organization. They will also see firsthand the different opportunities and challenges experienced by the implementers. The on the ground experience will help rejuvenate their motivation and drive to ensure the success of the organization as well as give a personal touch to their next fundraising pitch.
3. Outline clear ways they can help and have the materials ready
The lack of support might be an issue of miscommunication and problems in complete staff work. Fundraising is a tough mountain to climb, and your board members can be at a loss to what the nonprofit actually needs. They will be prone to suggesting initiatives that are not in tune with what’s happening on the ground. Have the fundraising team clearly outline the work to be done in every board meeting. Ask them to donate to a specific campaign, sponsor an event, or tap into their network. Have all the materials ready and organized so that time won’t be lost with looking to complete information.
Not everyone is a gifted fundraiser, and that’s understandable. Instead of lamenting the shortcomings, nonprofit management should work with what they have and elevate resources with training, engagement, and communication initiatives. One can never know that the next major gift is waiting to be unearthed in a passive board member.