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Leadership Monday: Why Bd Members Are Reluctant to Fundraise

If I’ve heard it once, I’ve heard it a hundred times in the last couple of months: “My board really doesn’t want to get involved in the fundraising process.” I think to myself, well, duh! Didn’t they know when they came on that fundraising was a very important part of their responsibility as a nonprofit board member?

I know, I know, you’re thinking that I don’t understand, but I really do. If you’re like many of the clients I’ve worked with, getting your board engaged in the fundraising process is critical to your success. You’ve got a very tight budget, a limited amount of time, and the need for more resources to really have the kind of impact you’re capable of having in your community. That kind of explains it, right?

Now, consider the above from a board member’s point of view. There are, after all, several things that might interfere with a board member’s involvement in the fundraising process.

Here are the 3 reasons that surface time and time again:

  1. When you tell board members that you need them to help you fundraise, they have no idea what you mean. Do you mean grant writing, events, personal asks, direct mail, hosting a party, or crowdfunding? Because they’re not sure what you’re asking, they’re not comfortable saying yes. Be specific. It won’t seem as overwhelming that way.

  2. They don’t know how to fundraise. As adults, it’s tough for them to admit that they don’t know how to do something–this is especially true, it seems, for board members because they’re usually successful leaders , often with advanced degrees, who have worked hard to develop reputations as leaders.

  3. They want to know with certainty that their contributions have a significant payoff. So while many board members may lean towards events, if you can educate them on Return on Investment (RoI) of different approaches, you can help them make decisions that will result in greater impact.

I have no solutions to these objections (actually, I do, but that’s not the purpose of this blog).

I simply want to present the 3 obstacles I see as being the major challenges to getting board members to buy into the fundraising process.

I’m hoping that you might add additional obstacles you’re faced with regarding your board members and fundraising.

Please list them here and tell us what you’re doing to overcome them.

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