“We’re not a fundraising board.” Nearly every fundraiser has heard this said, but every board member has a responsibility in the fundraising process. Here are some tips to dispel board member myths:
Myth 1: “Fundraising is the job of staff.”
Board members should be recruited based on influence, affluence and expertise. It’s unrealistic to think staff members can uncover better community connections than the board already has. Staff members have the time and abilities to administrate the process, and they will bring professional insights to the table, but board members have the natural contacts.
Myth 2: “Asking people for money makes me uncomfortable.”
When a solicitation is made, only one person asks for the gift. By the time this takes place, dozens of hours will have gone into preparing for the ask. A board member might be a part of the process by suggesting the prospective donor, reaching out to a prospect or offering a tour of the nonprofit. They might even join in on the solicitation meeting and share a personal story, such as, “I’ve been so moved by what this nonprofit has accomplished, I’ve included it in my estate.” A staff member can ask for the gift, but board members still can have a major impact on a nonprofit’s fundraising efforts.
Myth 3: “We’re a ‘working’ board.”
Translated, this usually means: “I’m donating my time. Don’t expect me to give you money, too.” However, many grant-making foundations will specifically ask if there is 100% board participation before considering a gift. The thought is: “If the people closest to the organization aren’t investing, why should we give?” Board contributions don’t need to be huge, but they do need to reflect strong buy-in. When recruiting new board members, make sure this point is understood upfront.
Board members are legally responsible for the nonprofit’s fiscal welfare. Fundraising ensures money is available for the mission. It should be job number one.