Guest Post: Jump-start a Team Approach with Your Nonprofit Board

Professional fundraisers will agree that a customized training is a fantastic way for a nonprofit organization to get the board and staff motivated.

Typically nonprofit board members are intelligent and accomplished members of our communities who are selected for their expertise. That’s the good news. That’s also the bad news.  Good, because they are well-respected by staff and supporters.  Bad, because often their intelligence and accomplishments revolve around their personal and business lives, which does not necessarily translate to an understanding of their fiduciary responsibilities as a board member of a nonprofit organization.

When it comes to fundraising, board member competencies are not difficult to grasp.  However, they are not innate; they must be learned. Further, the complexity of the board/staff relationship in a nonprofit can make it challenging to determine who is “calling the shots” when it comes to fund development.  Staff can identify how board members can help move a development initiative forward, but often they shy away from asking for help.  Enter the third-party trainer.

The trainer should not just address best practices of the board’s role in fundraising and the intricacies of the board/staff relationship, but should take care to understand and address the specific issues facing that particular nonprofit organization, its board and staff.

Typically these include:

  • What is the “suggested” annual donation for board member?
  • Who solicits board members for gifts?
  • If the board member solicits donations from friends and colleagues how will those donors acknowledged?  How will the board member be acknowledged?
  • How do we (board and staff) set fundraising goals that are challenging, realistic and attainable?
  • What does fundraising success look like at our nonprofit?
  • What are some examples of fundraising success at other organizations like ours?
  • How can we (board and staff) work together to create a strategic plan for fund development?

Hats off to Greater Giving for a super resource library with tons of ideas.  Spend some time combing through these resources.  Brainstorm together (board and staff) to consider your questions.  Talk to an experienced facilitator of board training who will customize training specifically for your team.  You will want to work with a professional who will listen to your challenges, help you envision the future for your organization and leave you with specific next steps to keep moving your mission forward.

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By: Ruthellen S. Rubin, CFRE

Ruthellen S. Rubin, CFRE is a Professor of Philanthropy and Fundraising at New York University.  She is also a consultant to philanthropies and nonprofits, primarily in the areas of sustainable fundraising strategies and board development.  

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