One of the biggest complaints I hear from Executive Directors and Development folks is that they wish their Board would help with fundraising.
It’s their job, right? A nonprofit Board is supposed to “ensure adequate resources” for the organization.
And it’s not like they want their Board members to make million-dollar Asks. They want their Board to sell tickets to their events. They’d like for Board members to bring prospects by for a tour. And they’d LOVE for Board members to open doors and set up meetings with VIPs.
Any of this sound familiar? Yeah, I thought so.
Is it just wishful thinking to want that much from your Board? I don’t think so.
I believe that it’s possible to have a fundraising Board. Heck, I’ve been part of Boards that were great at stepping up to help. With the right training and support, ANY Board can become a fundraising Board.
And it starts with you. You may need to adjust your expectations a bit and put a few things in place so that they CAN be successful.
Here’s what I’ve figured out over many years of working with Boards: most people who sit on a Board are good-hearted and really want to help. The problem is that they don’t understand what they’ve said “yes” to. And in the absence of knowledge about their role, they migrate to whatever looks fun. That’s why so many tend to micromanage.
So how do you fix it? First, understand that it will take a little time. Like turning the Titanic, shifting your Board’s culture is a slow process and you’ve got to be patient. Forcing it or trying to hurry it along won’t help.
Next, realize that you know WAY more about their job than they do. It’s up to you to help them learn to be a good Board member. Stop playing the Blame Game and being mad at them for their lack of meeting your expectations, and start teaching them what they need to know. They already look to you for answers to most questions anyway, so be prepared to show them the way.
Here are some tips for helping your Board better understand fundraising and how they can join in:
- Set the expectation. When you recruit new members, let them know that they will need to give a personal gift AND participate in fundraising. Your Board prospects will know exactly what they’re getting into, and you’ll avoid a bunch of mess later on. Just to be safe, I’d put it in writing and give them a copy.