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Encouraging Board Members to Fundraise

Each April, volunteers are celebrated for contributing to the nonprofit organizations they serve during National Volunteer Week. Nonprofit volunteers can take on many roles within an organization such as assisting in administrative duties, providing a program or service, serving on a committee or serving as a board member.

Board members assist a nonprofit’s executive director in setting strategic direction for a nonprofit. This includes governance oversight, program development, fiduciary responsibilities and ensuring the organization’s sustainability. Often, nonprofits need to fundraise for donations to be able to sustain operations. But how do you engage board members and volunteers to help fundraise for your organization’s needs? Not all individuals are comfortable asking people for contributions.

Below are some steps to help your board members and volunteers feel more comfortable assisting in your nonprofit’s fundraising activities:

  • Communicate your fundraising expectations for board members. Not all board members are aware of expectations to assist with fundraising efforts when they agree to serve on a board.
    • Does your board have a give-or-get policy? If so, at what amount each year?
    • Are board members required to participate in fundraising events?
    • Do board members need to help secure sponsorship dollars from the corporate community?
    • Does your volunteer leadership need to introduce new supporters to your organization each year? If so, how many?

During the board recruitment process, share the fundraising expectations of board members and continue the communication during orientation, retreats, training and meetings.

  • Educate volunteers about your nonprofit’s needs. Don’t assume your board members know what program or operational needs require philanthropic support. The more educated board members are about your nonprofit needs the more comfortable they will be asking others to support the cause. Share your case for support so leadership understands your nonprofit’s focus and areas most in need of financial support. In the event equipment breaks down or grant funding expires, communicate with board members on the amount needed to replace those dollars so they can share the needs with others they know who may be able to provide support.
  • Provide materials explaining your areas of need and ways to give. Suppose volunteers are going to fundraise on behalf of your nonprofit. In that case, they will need materials to share with prospects to demonstrate your legitimacy and ability to fulfill your mission. This can be in the form of a case statement, proposal for funding, brochure or other marketing pieces and pledge cards to make a gift. Volunteers need to be equipped with materials to support their gift ask and enhance their credibility. 
  • Train your volunteers to make fundraising asks. Many leaders may not have had to fundraise before and may be uncomfortable making a gift ask. Review proposal materials with board members and share how to use them during a prospect visit. Have a board member accompany you on a donor or prospect visit to view the approach and take part in the conversation. Donors will like getting to know your board members and the visit builds confidence for your volunteers to assist in making future gift asks.
  • Share progress on fundraising efforts and praise volunteers who assist with gift asks or help open doors to new opportunities. Like donors wanting to know the impact of their gift, sharing progress on fundraising efforts with board members who have assisted with gift asks or opened doors to new prospects will help them understand the value they add to your nonprofit’s fundraising efforts. Sharing successes during board meetings also provides special recognition to the volunteers who have assisted with fundraising efforts to help advance your mission. 

Are you looking for help in engaging your board members in fundraising? AMPERAGE Marketing & Fundraising can assist whether it’s creating fundraising materials to share with donors or training volunteers to assist in gift asks. Contact an AMPERAGE fundraising adviser at 319.268.9151 or for more information.

Written by:

Melissa provides fundraising counsel for AMPERAGE’s nonprofit clients, leading feasibility studies and providing solutions that drive successful fundraising campaign results. A Certified Fund Raising Executive (CFRE), she uses her experience and extensive skill set to continually advance her fundraising practices and develop campaign-specific strategies, materials and training to help clients reach their campaign goals and advance their mission. Melissa has vast experience working in the nonprofit sector, having served in development and leadership roles with Sisters of Mercy and the Alzheimer’s Association. In addition, she has served as a volunteer and board member with local nonprofits, such as the Catherine McAuley Center. Faith-based organizations and causes are of particular interest to Melissa. Melissa moves the needle by always looking for new opportunities and ways to improve professionally. She is currently president of the Eastern Iowa Planned Giving Council and a past president of the Association of Fundraising Professionals-Eastern Iowa Chapter. Melissa holds a Master of Strategic Leadership degree from Mount Mercy University. This busy professional, wife and mother enjoys sports and live music in her free time. A fan of Cubs baseball and Iowa Hawkeye football, Melissa and family enjoy football tailgating, where she’s known for her breakfast burritos. She enjoys the local band scene but says a Foo Fighters concert is her all-time favorite.