By Sarah B Lange under Boards, Fundraising on March 18, 2021

Each year, we ask our board members to do fundraising. And each year, we are likely met with all the enthusiasm of someone headed to the dentist for a root canal. What’s a fundraiser to do?!

Here are five reasons your board members HATE fundraising and what we can do to fix it:

1) Our Board members are not professional fundraisers.
Boards are comprised of volunteers, who may or may not work in the nonprofit sector, and often do not have experience, skills or expertise in fundraising. Fundraising is a very specific set of skills that must be learned and practiced. Have you taught your board how to do fundraising? If not, it’s time to start!

2) They think that soliciting gifts is the only way to participate in fundraising.
While some board members may enjoy asking potential and current donors to contribute to your work, other people need to support fundraising in other ways. This includes: serving as ambassadors who cultivate relationships to connectors who, in turn, bring prospective donors to you; engaging in stewardship – including thank you letters and calls; making presentations at the local Rotary Club or other organizations; etc. ALL board members have a role to play in fundraising – it’s our job to plug them in!

3) They don’t know how to talk about your organization and why it deserves donor support.
Board members may have the inside scoop on your nonprofit, but that doesn’t mean they’re good at talking about it. Make sure new board members receive a good orientation and a copy of your case for support (don’t have one? Time to write one!). At the outset of each year, have a review of your organization’s history, programs, and needs. Have staff members come to board meetings to provide brief updates. Share success stories. In short, provide regular updates about your successes, challenges, and opportunities so your board has information to share with the people they meet!

4) We ask them to trespass.
We frequently expect board members to solicit donations from and sell things to their friends, families, and co-workers. In doing so, we are asking them to trespass on their personal relationships. How many of you would be comfortable doing that? Never ask someone to do something you yourself would not do!

5) They fear rejection.
We all do. Many board members feel that asking for a donation is “begging.” Work with your board members to share their passion for your mission when they talk with donors and prospects. They’ve made their own personal financial commitment for a reason – their passion and commitment will inspire others. The more times a board member hears that magic “yes,” the more comfortable they’ll become.

I believe that ANYONE can do fundraising – I’ve worked with preschoolers and the elderly to raise money. I’ve worked with millionaires and people who barely had two nickels to rub together. If someone’s willing to help, it’s our job to get them plugged in!

If you want to learn more about how to make your board the stars of your fundraising team, come to my workshop: Boards and Fundraising: Yes They Can! on March 27 from 9:30 – 12:30 EST. To learn more and register, click here. 


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