Much has been written about the role a board of directors plays in the success of a nonprofit. Certainly everyone can agree that governance is one of those key roles. But when it comes to fundraising, the answer is not as clear…

I often hear from management that their particular board isn’t involved enough in fundraising. In some instances, board members specifically ask not to be involved at all. They cite their time commitment as their contribution. We all know that time doesn’t pay the bills. Not having the board support fundraising from concept to execution is a sure way to guarantee failure.

Whether you are considering joining a nonprofit board, are currently on a board or part of the management at a nonprofit, here are a few thoughts to consider when the topic of boards and fundraising reaches your desk.

Where’s the Commitment?

Solicit honest feedback (through a questionnaire, anonymous online survey, etc.) from all board members and analyze the results. This becomes a baseline. With this information, craft fundraising strategies that align with the board’s current willingness to participate. Raise the bar next time.

Don’t Keep Secrets

How committed to the mission of the organization are the board members? Does the organization ask each member to make a personal, annual gift, along with an annual commitment of outside contributions (“give or get”)? Clear communication of expectations will help ensure better success. Choose board members for their wisdom, experience and passion, but don’t forget about their connections! Board members have access to a treasure trove of potential individual and corporate donors, so involve the board in developing and implementing every major fundraising project. Successful fundraising campaigns start with planning exercises that include all board members. Finally, make sure the board is involved in identifying, refreshing and engaging your target list of supporters throughout the year. Real time success stories sell.

Scorecards not Postcards

“That’s why they’re called scorecards and not postcards.” I say that at least once per round of golf when referring to a bad shot that leads to a great score. The same holds true for evaluating board members’ efforts towards fundraising commitments and other measurable goals. A board should complete an accountability scorecard annually. Use the scorecard to plan for next year.

Mind Your Manners

Make sure board members reach out to donors personally, thanking them for their continued support. Donors want to know how their contribution directly helped the organization, so being specific and genuine helps with future asks.