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5 Rock Star Ways to Engage Your Nonprofit Board in Fundraising

One of the three primary functions of a nonprofit board is to secure the necessary resources. Yes, that means fundraising! Outlined below are five ways to engage your board in fundraising.

I understand that the idea of getting your board members to fundraise can be frustrating.

Many board members don’t help with fundraising because they don’t know what to do.

Duh, right!!!!!

Having served in an executive capacity for over 20 years, I discovered five effective ways to encourage board members to participate in fundraising.

1. Board Fundraising Training

Commit 15 minutes per board meeting to a generative question around fundraising.

This question and answer session allow the board to examine issues related to the organization’s fundraising strategy. Board members can also generate fundraising ideas and new information about fundraising. The conversation also allows the board to identify any problems in the nonprofit’s current fundraising strategy.

Here are four (4) examples of generative fundraising questions your board could consider:

  • How do other organizations engage their board members with fundraising?
  • List 5 reasons why someone wouldn’t want to be a donor. As a group, brainstorm how to overcome these objections.
  • Five years from today, what will this organization’s key constituents consider the most important legacy? Of the current board?
  • What’s one of the biggest obstacles preventing someone from giving?

TIP: Don’t make the mistake of rushing to fill the silence if board members don’t respond to the question right away. Give them time. Let them process. Remember, Q &A sessions are for brainstorming. It would be best to hear from as many board members as possible.

TO DO: Create a list of questions you will ask your board members.

Need additional board training?

Learn new tips, tricks & more about fundraising, grant writing, and more in Sabrina’s webinars.

2. Host a nonprofit board orientation.

If your organization has never conducted an orientation, consider having every board member attend. Some nonprofits host annual orientations as a way to engage board members. The board orientation is 1-2 hours in length and should include:

· mission and vision statements

· organizational history

· bylaws and policies

· strategic plan

· financial summaries

· board expectation

· committee information and

· meeting processes

According to Board Source, the key benefits of a nonprofit board orientation are:

  1. For individuals who have never served on a board, the orientation initiates the person to the process of “serving.”
  2. The orientation provides an introduction to the organization’s mission and programs.
  3. Clarification of future time and financial demands. Board members need to know upfront if they are expected to raise $5,000 per year.
  4. It builds a long-term educational platform about the expectations of the organization’s board of directors.
  5. The orientation process indoctrinates incoming board members to how the board operations and learn from existing board members.
  6. Every board member has the same framework of how the nonprofit functions and learns about the nonprofit’s organizational culture.
  7. It cultivates new partnership opportunities and relationships by extending the nonprofit’s reach and access to external resources.

3. Plan an annual board retreat.

The best way to engage board members is to host an annual board retreat. It’s critical to get the board to function as a unit.

Board retreats are great for team building, planning, and fundraising training. The retreat can incorporate strategic planning questions.

Focus on strategic planning at your retreat and how you expect to pay for the plan’s implementation. It’s helpful to have a retreat to discuss strategic planning and fundraising!

TIP: Board retreats should not simply be extended versions of regular board meetings. They should have a distinct feel and purpose.

Need a board retreat facilitator? Hire Sabrina.


4. Meet with each board member personally.

Meeting as a group isn’t enough, nor is sending an email. As a nonprofit leader, you must build a relationship with board members. Invest time in having a long cup of coffee (or Sipping tea session or Wednesday Wine) with each board member once a year and get to know them better. Ask them:

  • What do you love most about our organization and serving on our board?
  • What are your biggest frustrations?
  • How have you helped with fundraising in the past, at our nonprofit or other organizations?

And most importantly, ask:

  • How would you specifically like to help with fundraising? (Be sure to have a board commitment form with you or some examples of ways they can help.)

5. Five by Five Rule – Engage 5 people 5 times a month.

Remember, board members are volunteers who have full-time jobs. Hence, they are very busy! You must be clear in what is expected of them by your organization. Here are some concrete requests you can make to each board member that will require only about 15 minutes a month:

  • Write 5 thank you notes — provide note cards, addresses, and sample text.
  • Make 5 phone calls — again, provide scripts including what to say if they get a voice mail.
  • Invite 5 people to our upcoming event — send them an email to forward to their friends. Ask them to include a personal line or two at the top. Again, provide sample text.
  • Introduce 5 potential donors to the CEO or development office – send them an email to forward with the sample text as well as a phone script.

I hope this helps. Your feedback is appreciated. Leave a comment below on what else have you tried to engage your board members in fundraising? Sharing is caring.

If you are a CEO or ED of a nonprofit organization and want to learn from me and others join the Supporting World Hope Facebook Group.

You can follow me on Instagram @the_nonprofitexpert and other social media platforms @supportingworldhope: Facebook, YouTube, LinkedIn, Pinterest.

Categories Boards & Fundraising, nonprofit, Nonprofit Communiqué BlogTags , ,
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