How Do You Get Nonprofit Board Members to Fundraise?

Fundraising Campaign Management  / By Mike Crum

First off, when you recruited board members – did you tell them they would have to be involved in fundraising? And if you did, did you explain to them that doesn’t have to mean making the ask – it can also involve thanking donors and promoting the Nonprofit?

If you didn’t – no worries, read up on building a Board Member Recruitment Committee.

If you’re like most Nonprofits, you’re still struggling with getting board members to participate in fundraising. Chances are, you’ve got 2 to 3 board members doing all the fundraising work. Sounds about right?

Well, here are 3 tips to get your Nonprofit board members successfully involved in fundraising. Nobody joins a board to fail, and these 3 tips will not only raise more money and increase donor engagement – you’ll also help your board members have more fun while creating a culture of philanthropy across your Nonprofit.

  1. Meet your board members where they are at!

Start with the Philanthropy menu and have each board member fill it out. This way they can map out their fundraising activities and goals for the year. You’ll also be able to use the Philanthropy Menu to check in with board members to help them measure their activity, and help them be more successful.

The Philanthropy Menu is critical because not all board members are going to be comfortable with THE ASK. Most board members associate fundraising almost solely with the ask, and are relieved when they find out there are many other roles and activities for them in fundraising – in addition to the ask

  1. Develop a Philanthropy Committee

Recruit current board members, past board members, and other fundraising volunteers who are passionate about your Nonprofit. Ensure you’ve got folks with a variety of  sets and that committee members are diverse and reflect the communities your Nonprofit serves.

Define what you want to achieve with your committee. Ideally, the committee will work closely with the Development Director and / or Executive Director in implementing the fundraising plan. Moreover, implementation is great but you also need the committee to ensure goals are being met, and if not, to help course correct. Make sure to celebrate successes and recognize the hard work of your volunteers.

The Fundraising Committee will also work with board members to help them fulfill their goals and planned activities outlined in each board member’s Philanthropy Menu.

  1. Don’t put Fundraising updates at the end of your board meeting agendas!

This one seems simple, but make sure it happens! Use time at board meetings to get your entire board to “chew on” some issues related to fundraising. You could spend time talking about your events and seek their input on what other Nonprofit events they’ve attended that were really special.

Or, spend time (literally) phoning donors to thank them for their support. Just about everybody will have a phone on them, so why not take 10 minutes, and assign four donors to each board member. Boom – if you’ve got 12 board members at the meeting, then you’ve made at least  50 calls to donors! Plus, although they might loathe this idea at first, there will be a collective energy around making the calls, and you’re bound to get at least one donor who will make a pledge over the phone – even though the goal is just to thank donors for their support.

Covering fundraising at your board meetings this way is so much better than going around the room asking each board member if they made their assigned calls and raised money. This happened at my first board meeting as a new board member of one Nonprofit and it was grueling. The board chair spent 20 minutes shaming board members who hadn’t yet made their calls (only 2 had!), and it really sucked the life out of the meeting.

Instead, make the most of your board meetings and help board members succeed. Also, make sure you use board meetings to recognize and celebrate board members and others fundraising accomplishments.

These three tips don’t take too much work to launch. The real value is in systematizing them in your Nonprofit. If you can do that, you’ll build stronger and more committed board members, as well as dramatically increase the fundraising success of your Nonprofit.


Mike Crum

Subject Matter Expert

Mike is a recognized expert, thought leader, advisor and speaker in the Nonprofit world. Over the past four decades, Mike served as an Executive Director, COO, see more

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