How to Engage Board Members to Raise Money

People do not join non-profit boards of directors to raise funds. They join to “change the world” and make a difference in something in their community.

But one of the most important functions of the board of directors is to raise money for the non-profit organization. And since most boards abdicate this responsibility and delegate it to the executive director, the next most important aspect of their position is to make sure that the executive director is motivated and skilled in the process of raising money. However, the executive director cannot do this alone and needs to work in partnership with the board to effectively increase the visibility and outreach of the organization and to bring in money and resources to develop services.

This week, let’s look at some strategies and approaches to engaging board members to raise funds.

  1. Ground the board solidly in the vision and mission of the organization as a prerequisite to raising money. Make sure the board members fully understand, appreciate and can present the “30 second elevator speech” of the organization.
  2. Role playing with the board will reduce the level of anxiety and fear that people have in asking others for money. Practice in teams of two and go out the first few times in these teams to ask for money.
  3. Have the most well-respected member of the board give the board members a pep talk. The board needs to know that by raising money for the organization they create opportunities to change the world.
  4. It’s NOT ABOUT THE MONEY. This is really important for people to realize. Obviously it is about the money but you are not just raising money you are giving people an opportunity to participate in a critical program that will make a difference in people’s lives.
  5. Have each board member provide three names of people that they will be cultivating throughout the year. When it comes time to do the “ask” have the executive director ask for the money with the board member at the meeting. This is an entirely effective strategy.
  6. Don’t forget to ask your vendors, suppliers, and contractors to make business or personal contributions to your organization. These are people that benefit from your organization and they should give a percentage back to your organization. Don’t forget to ask your bank, your insurance agency, office supply store, travel agent, etc.
  7. Provide a tool kit for each board member that includes a business card with their name on it, marketing materials, a fact sheet about the organization, “talking points,” and a list of how their donation will be used broken down by a specific dollar amount.
  8. The board chair and officers need to set a good example by making the initial contributions.
  9. Don’t encourage tough sells that may turn donors off. Try to convince donors that the organization is a tremendous investment that will return significant dividends to the community.

Make every board member a donor and encourage every donor to become a fundraiser for the organization. Once the person becomes a donor try to help them understand the importance of opening up doors for you to meet their associates and friends who might become future donors.

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