Board Fundraising Whose Responsibility Is It?

Written by Claudette G. Baker

How many times have you heard board members say “I don’t fundraise.”  It’s the statement that makes board chairs, executive directors and development directors cringe at the very thought.  The interpretation of the sentiment expressed is often misunderstood and translated as a board member shirking their responsibility.  According to BoardSource’s, Ten Basic Responsibilities of Nonprofit Boards, number 6 states Ensure adequate financial resources. One of the board’s foremost responsibilities is to secure adequate resources for the organization to fulfill its mission. And, if you are still not convinced that fundraising is a board responsibility keep in mind the legal obligations of boards.  Duty of Obedience requires board members to act consistent with the goals of the organization and to be faithful to the mission.  This rule also means the organization as a public trust will manage the donated funds to fulfill the mission.   So, what do you do when board members say they don’t fundraise.

  1. Have a probing conversation to understand exactly what the board member means.  It may be they are simply saying they do not solicit gifts.
  2. Explain the importance of the board’s role in fundraising, remind them of the board member job description and review the organization’s fundraising plan.  This assumes in your recruitment process board expectations were clearly defined and fundraising was not treated as an “oh by the way” conversation.
  3. Offer ways that they can fundraise that makes them comfortable.  Board members are connected in the community and they can give names of prospects – that’s fundraising!  Be sure and ask the board member how they want to be involved in your making contact.
  4. Have them reflect on why they are involved and why they contribute a personal gift to your nonprofit and ask them to make thank you phone calls or send thank you emails.
  5. Invite them to go on a solicitation call to see how donors and prospects get excited about the mission of the organization.
  6. Ask them to highlight the nonprofit on their Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn networks.
  7. Give every board member a job and hold them accountable.

There are numerous reasons why board members do not fundraise.  Weak boards do not raise funds effectively.  It is also a board responsibility to assess its performance.  If your organization is not accomplishing its fundraising goals due to a lack of board involvement it may be time to take a look at board recruitment, structure, operations, and culture.

Successful fundraising is not just asking for money!

Visit these sites to learn more on board fundraising:

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