As Washington DC nonprofit advisors, we work with a lot of nonprofits in many areas of charitable and philanthropic work. One question we often ask is simple but often evokes sarcastic laughter when we ask it when meeting with clients.
“Does everyone on your board help raise funds?”
If you laughed out loud at that, it’s time to rethink your position on Boards and fundraising.
The role of a Board of Directors isn’t just to guide and manage the operations of the nonprofit organization. Nonprofits often struggle with fundraising (surprise, surprise). It starts at the top when the Board doesn’t do its share of the heavy lifting and turns away from fundraising tasks.
There’s an old saying that “many hands make light work.” If you want to make light work out of fundraising, it’s time to get your Board’s hands into the mix. Ready? Let’s talk about fundraising!
Five Steps to Engaging Your Board in Fundraising
Professional fundraisers tell us that there are five steps to raising money for a nonprofit. As Washington DC nonprofit advisors we’ve also seen these steps in action and can recommend them to your nonprofit.
The steps to successful fundraising, which you can teach to your Board of Directors, include:
- Identify prospects: Often the Board of Directors are professionals and high-level executives from the surrounding community. They may be well-connected to wealthy individuals, corporations, and others who might be interested in donating to the organization. Ask and follow up with your Board on their ability to crack open their address books and identify top prospects.
- Educate, cultivate and involve: This is where a little help from your marketing and communications folks comes in handy. Help your Board members learn to educate, cultivate, and involve their prospects in the work of the organization. Create events in which potential donors can see the work at hand that supports the missions. Utilize video, photography, and a mixture of media to engage donors and prospects at every step of the process. Involve potential donors in the work of the organization to see if there’s a fit. Help your Board do this by providing them with the tools that they need to educate, cultivate and involve.
- Ask: This is the step at which many people get tongue-tied. Teach people how to ask gracefully and graciously for the donation.
- Thank: After the ask, thank people. Thank them through written letters, notes, and public speeches. Thank them early and often. Acknowledgment goes a long way towards making donors feel valued and honored to contribute to supporting the mission of the organization.
- Involve: Continue the cycle by involving donors even further in the activities of the charity. Keep them on your mailing list and share stories and updates of what the organization has been doing to further its mission. Board members should have many opportunities to invite their prospects to events and other engagements where they can get involved in the activities of the nonprofit.
All Board members and Trustees can – and should – participate in the fundraising activities.
But what happens if you have someone on the Board who absolutely refuses to help out?
A little peer pressure can alleviate the situation. Talk privately to several Board members who are the best at fundraising. Perhaps the holdout needs coaching or encouragement to get on the fundraising bandwagon. With a little help from your friends and theirs, i.e., the Board members and Trustees who are comfortable with fundraising, you may be able to convince them to at least give it a try. Once they are successful, they’ll feel a sense of purpose and accomplishment that inspires them to continue with the fundraising work.
Fundraising isn’t as onerous as it sounds. With a little coaching and encouragement, everyone on the Board can become a fundraising ally for your organization.
Beck & Company
Beck & Company is an independent certified accounting firm offering accounting and tax service for nonprofits, nonprofit financial management, auditing services and more. Since 1987, we have helped many nonprofits in the Washington D.C. area and along the Eastern seaboard with their accounting and financial management needs. We provide audit, tax, accounting, and consulting service that addresses all aspects of a small to mid-sized nonprofit organization’s business. Contact us or call 703-834-0776 x8001.