Save Your Breath: Let Your Board Members Do the Talking

Picture this: You’re attending a board meeting to talk about an upcoming campaign to raise money for your ABC program. Your board knows all about the important ABC program and the positive impact it will have in your community.

  • You (enthusiastically): We’re kicking off our campaign to raise money for the ABC program!
  • Your board members look a little nervous.
  • You pass out a one-pager called “Board Expectations for Fundraising” (or something similar).
  • You talk through each item on the list and finish with, “And we really need each board member to help with fundraising by doing these things!”
  • Your board members nod their heads.
  • After the meeting, you find half of the “Board Expectations for Fundraising” left behind on your meeting room table. And nothing else happens…

We’ve all been there. As a former staff fundraiser, I’ve tried all kinds of ways to get boards involved in fundraising. And some things work. As a start, try 3 Easy Ways to Engage Your Board in Fundraising. And then, read on.

I recently facilitated a board discussion around campaign fundraising for a small nonprofit whose board had not previously been tasked with raising money. Instead of sharing “Board Expectations for Fundraising,” I asked the group, “If we were to launch this campaign, what are some things that board members could do to help it be successful?”

Here’s the list they came up with:

  • Case for Support as elevator speech
  • Identify people who could be leadership donors
  • Identify links to leadership donors
  • Promote the reasons why (the nonprofit) is worthy of support
  • Understand project aspects and outcomes
  • Make a stretch (gift)
  • Support of committee and staff
  • Research grants and connect to grant makers
  • Host a campaign event
  • Keep up with organizational communications and information

I couldn’t have said it better myself! 

Board members want to help. They also want to be inspired, challenged and not bored to tears at your board meetings. Thinking about yourself, wouldn’t you agree that it’s much nicer and more productive to be involved in a discussion rather than being told what you “should be doing?” 

Board members don’t like to be told what to do any more than you do. So, try spending less time talking and more time listening (and inspiring!) your board members. I think you’ll see a notable difference. 

What tactics have you used to engage your board in raising money for your mission? Please share your ideas, successes or challenges in the Comments box below! 

Special gift for you: Conquer Your Fear of Asking for Money, a step-by-step guide, is available here (click).