Fundraising Responsibilities of a Board Member
Approaching a Potential Board Member
The staff at ProfitQuest.com has provided the following fundraising tips.
A potential board member is approached about serving on the board of directors for your nonprofit. Let's call her Jane Doe. Mrs. Doe is a tremendous long-time supporter of your organization. You make an appointment with Mrs. Doe and ask her to consider serving on your board of directors. Immediately, she understands the hard work and fun that will go into her efforts as a board member. You mention that she'll help make tough decisions, start new policies, attack controversial issues, balance the budget, tackle benefits and pay for the employees of your organization, help fundraise....Whoa!
She interrupts, "Did you say fundraise? I'm really not good at fundraising, and I feel reluctant at asking my friends and neighbors to hand over their hard earned money." She continues, "I'm really better as a coordinator and planner than I am at asking people for moneyjust sign me up to do anything, but raise money."
If I were the person asking, I would show understanding at her position, thank her for her continual involvement and financial support, thank her for her time at this meeting, and then restate that all of the board members are responsible for raising money at this nonprofit organization. For courtesy's sake, I would allow her to think about it further for a couple more weeks.
After an agreed upon period of time, make your recommendation that Mrs. Doe would not be good for a position on your board of directors. However, with her position in the community, she might make a great member on the advisory board. An advisory board member lends his or her financial support, name recognition and credibility to your group, but does not make binding decisions or policies.
If Mrs. Doe really is more of a worker, place her into a committee or volunteer position that best reflect her talents. You don't want to lose her potential contributions to your organization.
The Fundraising Connection
I believe that a board member should be willing to contribute 30% to 50% of his or her time on a board toward raising money. Perhaps this seems a bit extreme to most, but in my experience as a fundraiser for many years, this should be the most important emphasis of a board member. If a board does not tackle the main issue of funding its very own mission, then even the most worthy service to others will eventually falter.
Do not rely on the president to handle fundraising alone. A board should not transfer its fundraising responsibilities on to an executive director, fundraising coordinator, or fundraising development committee.
A Board Member's Fundraising Role
First, a board member should step up to the plate and be a significant donor. Too many times I've seen boards where members only give $25 or $50 a year or nothing at all. They say that their "time" has a value to it and they don't need to give cash. To be blunt, get these people off of your board of directors.
Ask for those individuals who can make significant contributions. Perhaps $500 for a small group with a budget of under $10,000, or $5,000 for a group with a $100,000 budget. If you have a budget of over $1,000,000, then shoot for $25,000 to $50,000.
Second, a board member should cultivate potential donors. Taking potential supporters out to dinner with another board member and "wine and dine" them is one method. Board members should pick up the tab at these meetings and not charge the meal back to the organization. An explanation of why the guests support and/or participation with the nonprofit group is needed.
Third, the solicitation of a donation with help of another board or staff member is a must. I advise to not do this alone, but with the help and support of another member that is just as involved in the organization.
Finally a board member should pass on his or her corporate and foundation board contacts to their fellow board members. Make a point to introduce the organization to these potential contributors.
Boards without a true fundraising emphasis, including substantially giving as individual members themselves, are always in a crisis. They continually wonder why it is so difficult to manage their organization. Conversely, boards with dynamic fundraising involvement where each member personally gives substantial financial support will grow soundly year after year.
By securing those individuals that are willing to serve in a fundraising role as part of your board of directors, your organization can count on their success and support, especially during tough times. They will not fail you or those you serve.