Rule #2 for Board Members: Know Your Fundraising Roles and Responsibilities

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Rule #2

What are the fundraising responsibilities of nonprofit board members?

This post outlines Rule #2 in The Board Member’s Guide to Fundraising: 10 Rules for Success Every Board Member Must Know

Know Your Roles and Responsibilities in Fundraising

This is an excerpt from my new fundraising education series for board members.

It’s designed  just for nonprofit board members –  to help them understand how fundraising works today – and how they can best help.

Click here to find out more and bring this important training series to your board. 

So if you are a nonprofit board member, you probably hear a lot of talk about fundraising.  You can’t really avoid the topic, because fundraising is so important for generating cash flow.

Many board members tell me they are interested in learning more about fundraising so that they can be helpful.

Here are some of your responsibilities in fundraising:

1. Understand your organization’s fundraising program and strategies.

Your organization probably employs several different fundraising strategies.

Why? Because there are many ways to raise money – events, grants, sponsorships, direct mail, one-on-one relationships, capital campaigns, estates and bequests, crowdfunding and digital strategies.

The smart organization chooses the fundraising strategies that work best for its own culture, its own history, and its own donors.

Be sure you understand your organization’s own unique fundraising program, so that you can personally support it:

  • Why is your organization doing this particular strategy?
  • How well is it working?
  • Is it a profitable use of your nonprofit’s scarce time, staff, and resources?
  • Who on our team is actually doing what?

2. Support and help out in your organization’s fundraising program.

Fundraising is all-important! Your board wants and needs the positive cash flow that comes from fundraising.

Your job is to support and encourage all fundraising activities —  and the fundraising team.

Help enforce your organization’s annual Fundraising Plan.

Sticking to a concrete plan and set of strategies is the key to fundraising success.

So encourage your peers and your staff. Dive in and help out.

Here are some of the jobs board members can do to support fundraising:

  • Invite your friends in for tours of your organization.
  • Host small socials like porch parties or coffees for your friends to learn about your organization.
  • Invite everyone you know to come volunteer, help out, join in the cause.
  • Host donor thank you events.
  • Share stories about your organization on your social media feeds.
  • Celebrate the fundraising team, and cheer them on.

There are many fun jobs board members can do without having to solicit. Find a place in fundraising where you feel comfortable, and help out.

When board members make fundraising important, everyone is more successful.

And more dollars come in the door!

3. Help thank donors.

This is the easiest and most joyful fundraising job of all.thank-you_350x215

It’s one of the most important jobs your board can do.


Because when you spend tons of time warmly thanking your wonderful donors, you bring them even closer to your organization.

When donors feel acknowledged, and deeply connected to your cause, they will keep giving again and again.

The result?

Board members who thank donors are positively impacting the bottom line – just by engaging in the thank you process. This is how board members can raise money without asking.

Canadian researcher Penelope Burk found that:

  • 95% of donors would be very appreciative if a Board member called within a few days of receiving their gift just to say thank you.
  • 84% would definitely or probably make a larger gift.

So, as a board member, you can personally contact as many donors as possible to say thank you during the year.

That’s a hugely important fundraising job!

4. Ensure that fundraising has adequate resources and support.

What happens when an organization invests in and adequately staffs its fundraising operation?

You guessed right –  it raises tons more money than organizations with poorly staffed and underfunded programs.

When fundraising is consistently staffed and funded – you create long-term financial success.

You create positive cash flow your organization can use to expand its mission.

Every organization has a fundamental dilemma: you have one dollar. Where are you going to put it? Do you invest it in your mission and programming?

Or do you take part of that dollar and invest it in building up your organization’s infrastructure?

Here’s the thing: if you don’t invest enough of the dollar in your internal organization, you will never grow.

If you want money to grow your programming, you have to devote enough resources to fundraising.

And, we know, that well-funded fundraising operations raise more money.

5. Make your own proud, personal gift each year.

First of all, every board member has a moral duty to support the organization financially.

It just shows that they are putting their money where their mouth is.

If board members (who hold the legal responsibility for your nonprofit) don’t support your nonprofit financially, then why should anybody else?

How can your organization go out and ask for support if its leaders don’t give generously?

Board member giving adds integrity and credibility to the fundraising process.

The gift they make can be large or small. But it ALWAYS needs to be a gift each board member is personally proud of making.

Bottom Line:  Fundraising responsibilities of nonprofit board members.

There are many roles for board members in fundraising.

Don’t forget how important this activity is to the mission of your organization. You’re the representative from your organization to the community.

It’s your job to reach out, spread the word, and invite community and donor involvement.

Celebrate fundraising — and your organization’s donors. That’s how you can change the world.