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What Is It About Boards and Fundraising?

I wish I knew.  But I have some ideas about this I want to share.

For board members who have been through the wars with a nonprofit organization, there is a reluctance to jump into fundraising if it hasn’t been in the job description from the beginning. After all. The Book of Genesis doesn’t discuss fundraising. So, if you’re an original constructionist, you might have a good biblical argument against boards raising money.

But let’s look at the reality of nonprofit work.  The board of directors have legal and fiduciary duties, and set strategic direction. And underneath it all we hope we might find a passion for  the mission. Members aren’t sitting on this board just to occupy space and time. Seek out the sense of commitment to the stories of this nonprofit, the people it’s helped over the years, the value it delivers to the community. When we know there is this passion, we have something to build on to move members to add fundraising to the board job description.

Here are some suggestions to overcome the miasma, neuritis and neuralgia when someone says “fundraising:”

  • There are likely two or three board members who are friendly to the concept of fundraising. Work with these people to demonstrate the value of helping raise money to their colleagues.
  • At every board meeting, be sure there’s at least one story of success around the mission.
  • And at the same meeting, find a success story of a board member who helped make a connection that brought in a resource to the nonprofit.
  • As you work to build confidence in more board members to raise money, talk with your colleagues at other nonprofits whose board members are more “highly evolved” in their fundraising experience. Invite a member of that board to discuss the value of board fundraising at a future meeting of your board.
  • Show board members the value of networking. That they can do helpful things to advance the mission between meetings.

As you work on this approach with amenable members of your board, you’ll build a growing circle of Friends of Fundraising.

It’s contagious!

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