Boards have several responsibilities and duties to help fulfill their organization’s vision and mission. They oversee management and finances, set strategic direction, and ensure compliance with legal and tax requirements, to name a few. However, one of the board’s primary responsibilities is to help secure adequate resources to use in accomplishing the business mission. When it comes to the board’s role in fundraising, there is no single right answer. Nevertheless, nonprofit board members should consider focusing on four fundraising responsibilities:
1. Take a Leadership Role in Fundraising – Board members must take a leadership role in fundraising since they essentially own the organization and are responsible for the well-being of the organization and its successes. In addition, supporters and potential supporters see board members as the people most committed to the organization. If the board will not take a lead role in raising funds, why should anyone else support the organization’s cause? One way to accomplish the leadership role is to be actively involved in the development of the organization’s fundraising plan. A well-thought-out fundraising plan (developed in partnership with the board) identifies the board’s role, the amount each board member is expected to give and/or raise, and provides guidance for the range of ways in which they can support the fundraising efforts. Identifying the fundraising tool that best suits each member for bringing resources and people to the organization will only strengthen the organization’s overall success.
2. Leverage Connections – One of the most significant reasons a person makes a contribution to a nonprofit organization is because the right person asks. Although prospective donors must be interested in the organization, it is the people involved, especially those who ask for the gift, that makes people want to contribute. Therefore, board members should look for opportunities to introduce others to their organization and its mission. Making these introductions is valuable to the fundraising effort and provides opportunities to bring attention to the organization’s good work in the community.
3. Give-Or-Get Policy – What is a give-or-get policy? The name speaks for itself. Your board members agree to either donate a certain amount of money every year, or they agree to raise the equivalent from others. The level of monetary commitment is up to the board members. An important reason to implement this type of policy is that major donors, grant-makers, and individuals want to see the level of commitment from boards of the organizations they support or are thinking of supporting. Implementing and complying with such a policy is an effective way to demonstrate the board’s commitment to the success of the organization. Careful planning should be performed before implementing such a policy to insure it will succeed and not drive board members away. Every board is unique and may have different circumstance to consider. Some board members may lack personal wealth or community influence and others may have no experience fundraising. Taking the time to establish rules and procedures that fit an organization’s particular situation will aid in the policy’s success and in gaining compliance from its participants.
4. Oversee Your Organization’s Fundraising Efforts – As a board member you have the fiduciary duty to maintain financial accountability of your organization. Rather than taking a passive role in the fundraising efforts, board members should monitor the organization’s progress towards its fundraising goals. At times, staff members can become inundated with the day to day operations and may not realize a particular activity is under-producing or lacks the funds to be successful. By exercising oversight at a higher level the board is in a position to evaluate funding priorities and make recommended corrections.
Ultimately, the missions of nonprofits are important, but without funds, the organization cannot effectively function. By taking a leadership role, leveraging connections, and overseeing the organization’s fundraising efforts, board members can meet their fiduciary duties and secure the funding needed to fulfill their organization’s mission.
One funding opportunity, for 501(c)(3) organizations located in AZ, CO, MN, and UT: http://www.eidebailly.com/industries/nonprofit/resourcefullness-award-home
Apply for the Eide Bailly Resourcefullness Award by Wednesday, August 12th.