Building a Fundraising Board

board development Feb 23, 2021

The key to getting your board members to embrace fundraising lies in three simple steps—the recruitment process, ensuring that board members are committed to your organization, and removing the fear of fundraising that is inherent in most people.

In this article, let’s talk about the recruitment process.

For most nonprofit organizations, building an effective board is one of the greatest challenges. How do you find good board members? How do you get them to join the board and become active in fundraising? And how do you keep them involved once they are on the board?

Often good board members are hard to find, and sometimes it is difficult to assess their commitment to the organization until they are on the board, when it is then too late! Some boards flounder because there is no clear direction for them, and they haven’t bought into the vision of the organization. Finding committed, dedicated board leadership is often a challenge. Board members are often reluctant to fundraise because they have not been recruited with that purpose in mind. Even if you originally intended for your board to be involved in fundraising, many times board recruiters are reluctant to use the “F” word for fear of scaring off potential members. Many well-intentioned organizations operate under the noble idea that “once they get on our board and see the great work we are doing they will want to go out and ask for money.” Wrong! If board members have not been told up front that fundraising is a part of their role, they will not embrace it later when you decide to “slip it into” their job description.

Take a New Look at How You Recruit Board Members

You may need to rethink who does the recruiting of your board members. Instead of a nominating committee that meets once a year to fill vacant seats, you should appoint a year-round board resource committee. This committee can also be called the governance committee or the committee on directorship or any name with which you feel comfortable. Whatever the title, following are the key functions to remember about this committee:

  • It needs to meet year-round
  • It should be chaired by the one of the strongest members of your board.
  • It should assess board performance, both the board as a whole and individual board members.
  • It is responsible for developing or refining board position descriptions.
  • It evaluates the needs of your board and develops a profile of the kinds of people needed to fill vacancies on the board.
  • It works with your whole board to help find the right people to fill vacant board positions.
  • It ensures diversity on the board (remember that diversity includes more than just ethnic diversity—it should include age, gender, and geographic diversity as well as a diversity of skills and talents your organization needs).
  • It works with staff to plan and implement board orientation.
  • It is responsible for planning and implementing ongoing education for the board.

Your board resource committee, working thoughtfully, diligently, and on an ongoing basis, can make all the difference in the world between an effective, enthusiastic, and inspired board and a lackadaisical board that does not understand its role in advancing your organization's mission and is reluctant to get involved in the fundraising process. One of the key roles of this important committee is to develop a board position description that includes a required financial contribution from each board member as well as the expectation that each board member be involved in your fundraising efforts through attending events, planning development activities, and helping identify, cultivate, and solicit potential donors.

If you want to learn more about building your board and how to recruit board members, take my course, Build a Great Board, Sign up here

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