7 dos and don’ts for board member fundraising

Unless your nonprofit is one of the rare ones that has a board of directors that actually enjoys raising money, it’s likely you have to do a little bit of prodding to get your board members to do it.

Bob Zimmerman, president of Zimmerman Lehman, wrote in the book “Nonprofit Management 101,” board members need to be trained before being expected to fulfill fundraising responsibilities. He further explained that members’ reluctance to raise money should be blamed more on the organizational culture.

Simply put, too many nonprofits do not let the board know that fundraising is one of its key responsibilities.

Zimmerman listed seven dos and don’ts to instill a culture of fundraising in your board:

  • DO require that every board member make a capacity financial contribution.
  • DON’T assume that you’ve recruited folks to the board only to serve as experts on policy and programs, but make sure they understand their role in both fundraising and governance.
  • DO make sure that board members ask friends, relatives, and colleagues for contributions, or at least open the door to those discussions.
  • DO make sure that the board makes the ability to give and get money one of its criteria in recruiting new members.
  • DON’T let board members “poor-mouth” your efforts to solicit contributions; instead, coach them on singing the praises of your nonprofit and making the prospect understand that she is supporting a successful, valuable enterprise.
  • DO give board members specific “fundraising marching orders” so they understand their roles in such areas as grant solicitation, direct mail, and events.
  • DO understand that Rome wasn’t built in a day — creating an effective fundraising board takes time, but it will happen if everyone understands that fundraising is a top priority.