Perhaps the most common complaint that I hear from fundraisers and executive directors is “my board won’t fundraise.”
On closer examination it almost always comes down to unclear expectations or lack of knowledge — not an outright avoidance of all fundraising activity. The vast majority of nonprofit board members understand that they need to be a part of the resource development process. Most just don’t know how to do that unless you, the fundraiser, tell them, teach them and guide them.
So what’s the easy fix here? Spell out your organization’s board fundraising expectations from the very beginning of the relationship. The easiest way to do this is to put your fundraising expectations in your board job description. If your organization does not have a board job description, here’s a sample one (based on one that I created years ago and is still in use today).
Obviously not every item on the board job description will be fundraising related, but a few of the listed responsibilities should be. They should also be specific. Something like “in collaboration with other directors, assist in the resource development process” is not going to get it done — they know that they need to do something, but they still don’t know exactly what or how.
Here are a few concrete examples of potential fundraising expectations to include in a board job description:
- Approve fund development goals and plans;
- Participate in fundraising activities (especially in regard to identification and cultivation of prospective donors);
- Make introductions to prospective donors (some organizations set a yearly quota on this one, e.g. a minimum of three);
- Secure their businesses’ contribution to the annual campaign;
- Attend all organizational sponsored events (include a list of what & when these are);
- Make a personally significant contribution to the Fund’s annual campaign (some organizations have a minimum that they list in the job description).
Having a board job description, which includes key fundraising expectations, will make a huge difference in finding the right board members for your organization who are motivated and willing to help you take it to the next level.