What is the Role of a Nonprofit Board in Fundraising?

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What is the role of a nonprofit board in fundraising?
What is the role of a nonprofit board in fundraising?

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if you could create a true culture of philanthropy at your organization?

Of course, if you can gain full support for the development program, your overall revenue will go up! 

Let’s explore how the Fund Development Committee of the board can help everyone support fundraising – which is such an important revenue-producing area.

Here’s the deal: this Development Committee should be charged with monitoring and supporting the big picture of overall fundraising at your organization.

Developing a culture that supports philanthropy and fundraising – this is the committee’s highest purpose.

In addition, the committee needs to make sure that all board members are appropriately educated, engaged in and supportive of the fundraising program.

So, what are the Development Committee’s responsibilities to spearhead this effort?

I’m suggesting that you look bigger than this committee’s traditional roles.  Many people think that the Development Committee is about raising money and, what’s more, coming up with fundraising ideas to give to the staff.

This is not the case.

If you have a professional fundraising team, it is their job to develop the fundraising program that best fits your organization’s culture, donors and mission. Why have fundraising professionals if you don’t allow them to do their job?

The fundraising team develops the annual fundraising plan, and it is the Development Committee’s job to support that plan in whatever way is appropriate.

Your Fund Development Committee can encourage the full board’s support and participation in fundraising activities.  This means that all board members will help out appropriately in fundraising – not just the Development Committee.

So, the monkey is on everyone’s back, not just the committee members!

Here’s the best job description for the board’s Development Committee:

1. Ensure a solid, long term fundraising program.

Above all, support your organization to build a long-term, sustainable fundraising program that delivers reliable revenue to your nonprofit.

This means that the committee ensures that fundraising has priority and adequate resources – both out front development representatives and the back-office staff and systems.

Above all, the committee needs to ensure the long-term success of your organization’s fundraising initiatives.  In a way, it’s looking at the bigger, more strategic picture –where fundraising fits into the overall attention of the organization – and the board members.

2. Consistency.

Make sure the organization maintains consistent fundraising programs that nurture long term relationships with donors at all levels. This is the foundation of a sustainable flow of annual revenue.

A staff vacancy can ruin your annual flow of revenue, so you need to sure that fundraising is properly and consistently staffed. Manage vacancies carefully so that fundraising revenue doesn’t suffer.

Even more, ensure that fundraising strategies and tactics are carried out on a consistent basis.

We know of a few organizations, that are terribly short staffed, that are cutting corners on their upcoming year-end campaign. We understand, but this will hurt the organization in the long run!

3. Fundraising training for the board.

The Development Committee makes sure that all board members are properly trained and educated in how fundraising works today.

Of course, all board members can be more supportive when they understand how this work is done and what it takes to be successful in today’s environment.

Many board members think that fundraising is all about “asking,” but they need to understand that it is so much more! They need to understand that making friends, opening doors, reaching out to key stakeholders on behalf of your organization is also an important role.

4. Board member gifts.

Oversee the annual solicitation of board members, encouraging everyone to put their money where their mouth is, and makes a proud personal gift to the best of their ability.

It’s important that 100% of the board members make annual gifts. The Development Committee makes sure it happens!

5. Ensure full support for the people on your fundraising team.

The Committee makes sure that their human resources are well taken care of and supported. These are valuable individuals, and you want to keep them long-term at your organization.

People are leaving the fundraising field left and right. We recommend you go all out to make sure your fundraising staffers are happy, supported and plan to stay in the long run.

See that the fundraising staff receive training, are properly paid.

In addition, training for the staff should not be seen as professional development expenses, that are often cut. Training for the staff will help them raise more money for YOU!

Acknowledge the fundraising team. Studies show that when people are acknowledged they perform better.

They are representing your organization in the community and they need all the support they can get. What challenges are the staffers facing, and how can board members support them?

6. Actively help in fundraising.

Talking points. Make sure board members all know their talking points about the organization, so that they can be effective ambassadors in the community representing your organization.

Donor conversations. Help board members understand how to have a conversation with a potential donor without being pushy.

Open doors and introduce potential donors to your professional fundraising staff team. Development Committee members can open doors and set a great example to other board members.

Asking. Cooperate with the fundraising team, when making personal requests for annual and major gifts. Such activities should follow pre-established guidelines.

Play host: Host porch parties and small donor events to open doors and build community relationships.

Donor retention. Make follow-up thank you calls to donors. Honor and engage with donors however possible. They are one of your organization’s greatest resources.

Bottom Line on the Board’s Role in Fundraising

The Fund Development Committee leads the way, and the full board participates however they can!

If your organization is planning a capital campaign or expanding your major gifts program – we can help. Email coaching@gailperry.com if you’d like to schedule a free strategy call with us.