Many times the biggest untapped resource inside a nonprofit are the board members.
So what are you doing to engage your board in fundraising?
Your board is already on board with what your nonprofit does every day. They love your mission, support the cause, and share the vision. There’s an incredible passion in your board members—and if you can pull it out and harness it, that passion can prove a big boost to your fundraising.
Board members are your evangelists.
Board members are your best and brightest everyday spokespeople within the community. You want them out there talking about your nonprofit with their business partners and contacts, their employees, their friends, and their family.
Easier said than done, I know. So don’t forget to remind your board members often that they are smart, capable people with lots of connections that are valuable to your nonprofit. Remind them how much their voice matters. Because an active board is crucial to the success of the organization as a whole.
Everyone makes real fundraising possible together.
Fundraising isn’t only the job of your development person or group. Fundraising falls on everyone within your nonprofit, because everyone relies on fundraising to keep doing what they do. It’s your nonprofit’s lifeblood—and without it, everything comes to a grinding halt.
Board members are an important part of this fundraising coalition. Inspiring them to be a part of the coalition, and giving them the tools and empowerment to actively canvass for the nonprofit, are the keys to developing a fundraising-minded culture.
Flipping your board members’ “ON” switch.
So how do we get board members out there and actively evangelizing if they haven’t been already? Inspiring them is easier said than done.
But if you can make them feel like an integral part of your nonprofit’s mission, where they’re an indispensable part of your achievements, they can become empowered and successful.
- Show them why their work matters. Gather all the tangible ways in which your board members have helped your nonprofit achieve its mission. Show them the dollars raised, goals achieved, people helped, animals fed. Provide concrete examples of how their work has directly affected an outcome and made the mission possible—e.g. “with money raised by board members alone, we helped 500 pets find new homes!”
- Give direction and guidance. Put the mission in board members’ hands, but do tell them specifically what you need to accomplish it: more sponsors, more donations, more awareness. But leave it up to them to decide how to accomplish what you’ve asked!
- Give them the tools. Now that you’ve put the onus on board members to get out there and talk, it’s helpful to guide them on how to do it. Workshop with your board members about the essentials of fundraising. Discuss cultivating relationships, gathering information about potential sponsorships or large gifts, and the final step: asking for money. Asking is a skill that anyone can learn. And everyone who does it regularly is always improving at it. Coach your board members on how to ask. Let them practice and give them praise to help build their confidence.
- Thank them for their work. Gratitude is the best way to positively reinforce any behavior, and appreciating your board members shows them their hard work doesn’t go unnoticed. Continue to show them the positive impact they have on your work, and how their fundraising efforts make your mission possible, and they’ll keep going out and spreading the good word about your nonprofit.