Back to Oppelt Insights

To Get Board Members to Fundraise, Help Them Lead by Example

board relations for executive directors May 23, 2022

Actions speak louder than words. As we pointed out in Overcoming Why Board Members Don’t Fundraise, one of the reasons why board members don’t engage in raising funds is they don’t have a good role model to learn from. And people need role models. If you expect your board to engage in fundraising, you must set the example. In the same way, if your board wants the community to support your nonprofit, they must lead the way.

You Leading Them

Attitudes are infectious within a group. Your attitude towards raising money will influence board members’ views. If you have a negative mindset when comes to fundraising, expect your board members to have it too. So, don’t approach fundraising as a necessary drudgery. Approach it with the same posture you want them to have. Do what you need to do to be enthusiastic about raising money. Model the outlook you want.

Likewise, if you want board members to fundraise, you must too. You cannot just leave everything to your development director or development committee. You must participate. And report back to the board the results of your participation. Let them know how you dealt with your reluctance to ask for money and what you did to overcome your anxiety. Use your experience as a blueprint for theirs. Encourage board members to participate by sharing what you have learned by doing. Let them see someone has gone before them and come out for the better.

Your relationship with your development professional will also affect board members’ views about engaging in fundraising. Sometimes the executive director and development director are in conflict with one another. Make sure to resolve those conflicts. The way you relate to your development director is a signal to board members about how to interpret and weigh what the development director suggests. An experienced development director is an expert at fundraising. Let them be the resource you want them to be. Listen to them. Consider their advice. Work as a team to move the board, and organization, forward.

Them Leading the Community

It is board members who teach the community how to interact with the nonprofit they represent. They set the standard.

Before giving, many foundations and major donors ask about board giving. These potential donors want to know that the leaders are so dedicated to the mission that they put their money where their mouth is. It is not enough for board members to only serve. They are also expected to financially support the agency. Major funders expect board members to lead by example.

Because of the importance of board giving to fundraising success, every nonprofit should have a board giving policy. Some policies state a minimum expected donation. Others say any gift is acceptable as long as there is 100 percent board giving. My favorite is to ask board members to make the nonprofit they are governing one of the top three charities they give to. That way, you don’t exclude poorer community members from serving, and all board members have an opportunity to participate at a sacrificial level, no matter what their income level.

Just a you are a tole model for board members, board members are role models to the public.

Next Steps

Let’s talk about how your board participates in fundraising and any resistance you face. Just schedule a complimentary, thirty-minute strategy session. During our time together, we’ll clarify the issues you want to overcome and explore possible solutions.

Click the button below to get some time with me.

I look forward to talking with you! 

I want to move my fundraising to the next level