When you’re looking for how to raise money for a cause, one of the most natural places to start is with your board. But, before we give you our tips about what it takes to get your board fundraising, let’s make sure you have all the posts in our board series. If you run a small or medium-sized nonprofit and need some guidance, take a look at the following:
- Nonprofit Board of Directors: What You Need to Know
- Simplicity: Recruiting the Best People for Your Nonprofit
- Board Member Characteristics: Basics for Nonprofits
- Interview Questions: What to Ask Your Board
Most of the 1.5 million nonprofits in the U.S. are small. In other words, they operate with budgets well below $1 million. And, many of them work with budgets of about $100,000. That means that most of the time, nonprofit leaders are asking people to donate money. But, one of the best places to begin is with your board.
Why your nonprofit board should lead fundraising
Nonprofits hold a special place in society. Meaning, they are tax exempt. And, that status translates to there being more responsibility within the community for the work they do. For instance, there are regulations that nonprofits have to comply with at the federal and state level. And, one of the ways that regulators and society help ensure nonprofit transparency and integrity is with the board of directors. Notably, they serve as a bridge between charities and their communities to ensure quality work in service to society. So, it’s only natural that board volunteers should be the first to step up and donate money when it comes to your nonprofit.
How to get your board to raising money for a cause
Although boards have a responsibility to help nonprofits raise money for their missions, lots of times they’re stuck or don’t want to do it. But, in today’s world, there are many ways for boards to help people donate money. For example, boards can work with nonprofits to implement powerful artificial intelligence or peer-to-peer fundraising techniques into development teams. Or, they can figure out how to tap into the growing prominence of impact investing or donor-advised funds. So, let’s look at 5 practical tips to get your board to help you in raising money for a cause—your nonprofit.
1) Start with a big thank you
One of the best ways to get reluctant board members to raise money is to get them talking to other donors. And, a great way to get them comfortable talking to donors is to have them call people to thank donors. That’s it. There’s no need, when you’re starting, to ask board members to raise money from anyone. But, they can get their feet wet in the fundraising water by simply calling people to thank them for their financial contributions. When you get your board members regularly calling people, two things happen. 1) Donors get the benefit of a personal call from your nonprofit, which will be appreciated when it’s for a simple thanks. 2) And, you’ll ease your board into fundraising because, in those conversations, they will thank people for donations, but also learn why people donate to your charity.
2) Get talking about money
Often, boards will do anything not to have to deal with raising money for a cause. It’s not that they don’t care about the charity where they serve. It’s just that they don’t feel comfortable asking people for money. Remember, that’s natural, and it’s okay. But, as a nonprofit leader, you have to help them get comfortable. Therefore, another tip is to get your entire board engaged with understanding the financials. That includes revenue and expenses of your organization. Doing so is a board responsibility. Consequently, although board members may prefer the work of their committees (e.g., program committee), it’s crucial that everyone understand the money. As a result, all board members should become fluent in the finances of the organization. Thus, include discussions of finance and fundraising in all board meetings.
3) Board training to get supporters to donate money
We’ve written about the reluctance of board members to want to raise money for a cause, even if it’s one they support. And, that’s natural, but you have to overcome it as a nonprofit leader. One of the easiest ways to get over that hurdle is to have annual board training. Hire an outside facilitator to kick off your new fiscal year by training your board on fundraising. If you get a great consultant to do this, they will make the connection between the mission of the nonprofit and the board’s responsibility for its financial wellbeing. Also, a trainer will inform your board members on how and why fundraising can be easy. They can do this with role-playing or strategy sessions for potential asks. And, you might also find a consultant who will brainstorm fantastic fundraising ideas.
4) Donate money or raise it
Another challenge that comes with boards is that often you’ll get people saying they don’t have money to give. To make sure that your nonprofit minimizes people who won’t donate money, you have to have a robust recruiting process. In other words, all board members should give money to the cause where they serve. And, there are two ways to do it. First, they can contribute an amount each year from their finances. Alternately, if they don’t have much concerning disposable money, they can help you raise money. That can happen in two critical ways. For instance, they can reach out to people they know and ask their contacts for a contribution to your good cause. Or, they can partner with you if your nonprofit is, for example, approaching corporations or foundations. Frequently, these kinds of institutional funders like to have the chance to speak to board members.
5) Team up with your board members when asking major donors to donate money
Finally, one of the best ways to help board members in fundraising is to support them when raising money for a cause. We mentioned how board members could serve as liaisons between your nonprofit and institutional funders. But, the same holds for individual donors. If you have a list of major donors you need help soliciting, take a board member with you. In other words, ask board members to help you in building relationships with high-level donors. And, as relationships get solidified, eventually your board members can join you in making requests for money. Note, major donors prefer to speak to leaders of organizations when making donations, which includes board members. Motivate your board to join you in sharing why they’re involved and also the vision for the nonprofit.
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