5 Ways to Get Your Board More Involved In Fundraising


One of the most common complaints/frustrations I hear about board members is their unwillingness to ask for money or get involved with fundraising. Yet best practices say that successful organizations have board members willing and actively engaged in fundraising. No wonder this becomes a point of frustration!

What can you do if this doesn’t describe your organization? Get your board involved in other steps of the fundraising cycle. Go back to the basics. Fundraising has five steps: identification, education, cultivation, solicitation and stewardship. Most board members who say they “won’t fundraise” mean that they do not want to ask for money. So, ask them to work in another part of the fundraising cycle.

What can they do?

  1. Identify new donors. Did you get a new donor from your annual fund appeal that you don’t know? Ask your board members if they know that person. Which of your event attendees might make a good major donor? Ask your board members. Want to get to know the CEO of a local company or foundation? Ask your board members who knows him or her. What to expand your donor pool? Ask your board members who they know who might have an affinity for your mission. A board member’s role should include expanding the organization’s network; ask them to help identify who in their network might have an interest in your mission.

  2. Make introductions. People give to people and will more likely respond to someone they know rather than a stranger. Once a board member identifies someone as a potential major donor, ask if they will introduce you to him or her. They can simply drop that person an email or call and ask that they take your call (and why) or they can invite the two of you to coffee and make the introduction that way. I recently talked to someone who basically told me that she only agreed to meet with me because a respected co-worker asked her to. I’m OK with that. I got in the door which often becomes the hardest barrier to overcome.

  3. Invite their contacts to become involved in the organization. We all have an overwhelming number of opportunities to volunteer or attend an event. Rather than leaving your prospective donors to their own devices to volunteer for your organization, ask for a tour, or attend your event, ask your board members to invite and host them. They could volunteer with the board member to work with your clients, tour your facility or program, or attend a special event. Once they get in the door, use your powers of persuasion to show them how they can make a real difference with your clientele.

  4. Join a solicitation. Notice that I used the word “join” intentionally. If they will make an ask on their own, bonus. Turn them lose and let them go. Few feel comfortable doing that, however. Rather than leaving them on their own, ask them to join you as you ask a prospective donor for a large gift, especially a prospect they know. Often the ask becomes much more effective with two people asking – a staff and a volunteer. As a staff person, you are paid to love your organization; volunteers come by that love naturally. (You probably do too, but I’m talking perceptions.) Ask your board member to talk about why they support the organization and assure them that you will make the ask. Once they see the process in action, they may become comfortable making an ask themselves or see the power in your partnership and want to help more.

  5. Thank donors. Each donor should receive seven different thank yous. Ask your board to call a few top donors and thank them for their support. Or let them know that a donor they identified, educated or cultivated made a gift and suggest they drop a personal note. The donor will feel appreciated that this person knew about their gift and appreciate the additional recognition. Your board members can also invite donors to a coffee to thank them for their support or host a stewardship reception for donors. Just make sure those two magic words – “thank” and “you” – cross their lips. You’d be surprised how often they don’t … but that’s the subject of another blog post.

And, of course, thank and recognize your board members for their roles in fundraising.Let them know what happened with a prospect they identified or person they introduced you to or brought to an event.

What tips can you share to better involve your board members in fundraising activities for your organization?