What is the role of the nonprofit board in fundraising?

I suggest that it is a critical role – one that cannot be ignored or avoided.  The following ideas are informed by my fundraising experience and the coursework from the Principles and Techniques of Fundraising, offered by the Fund Raising School at the Center on Philanthropy.

Why should board members be the first constituency group to financially support their nonprofit organization?

  • The board is the leadership of the nonprofit organization.  If the leaders don’t support the organization, why would anyone else?
  • The board is a group of volunteers.  Of course, the staff members will sing the praises of their respective organization; they have a vested interest!  If a board member really “vouches” for an organization, it is often perceived as more genuine.
  • The board is critical in the cultivation and solicitation of other donors.  How can a board member ask someone else to support an organization if the board member doesn’t!?!

Why should board members be involved in raising funds from other sources?

  • The board has connections that staff members do not.  This can help with initial introductions and other critical components of the fundraising process.
  • The board provides critical information and an important perspective.  How does the community perceive this organization?  What fundraising strategies work with particular types of people?
  • The board brings additional skills.  Some individuals are great at telling stories.  Others are comfortable always meeting new people.  Some may enjoy building relationships one-on-one.  All of these skills are useful in the development cycle.

Ultimately, the board has a legal responsibility to lead the nonprofit organization.  (Check out this quick summary of legal duties, compiled by Board Source.)  For most nonprofit organizations, the financial viability of an organization is dependent upon fundraising.  So, the real question is:  why wouldn’t a board member be responsible for the organization’s fundraising?

Can you think of other reasons why board members should be involved in their nonprofit’s fundraising?  Please leave a comment!

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