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What Your Board Needs to Know About Nonprofit Fundraising. Nonprofit MBA Podcast 3.11

Summary: In today’s podcast episode, Stephen Halasnik and his guest Gayle Gifford discuss everything your nonprofit board needs to know to help execute your ideal nonprofit fundraising plan. Nonprofit board fundraising can come with its challenges, especially when not every board member is great at fundraising. However, successful nonprofit fundraising can be accomplished with a combination of organization awareness and having proper roles for nonprofit board members.

Make Sure Your Board and Nonprofit Is Accomplishing Their Mission

First things first, it is important for board members and executive directors to take a step back to analyze the organization. This will look different for all nonprofits, but before you start thinking about jumping into fundraising and solicitations, you want to make sure your nonprofit is where it wants to be. Is your nonprofit accomplishing its mission? Are you reaching your targeted community? Have your efforts made significant impacts on people and communities? These are the types of questions you may want to ask yourself before you have your fundraising committee or board members look for donations.

In terms of increasing fundraising, being able to see where your organization’s strengths and downfalls are will give you an opportunity for growth. When an organization is trying to increase donations, it is crucial that they are confident in their mission before asking for contributions. Nonprofit fundraising concerns may arise if board members feel as though they are not meeting their mission. When thinking about individuals making a personal contribution, they want to give money to an organization to help facilitate change or help something they care about or are passionate about.

Analysis of Nonprofit Board Fundraising Responsibilities & Roles

If you have already done the step suggested above (reflection), you are most likely ready to do some analysis of the role of the board in nonprofit fundraising. It is crucial for board members to know that not every single board member is meant to be involved in fundraising roles and fundraising activities. However, it can be helpful when trying to increase fundraising that board members can be used as promoters of an organization. Board members should all be on the same page in terms of fundraising expectations. Even if your nonprofit board members are not the ones doing the soliciting directly, they can still play an active part in your prospective donor’s experiences.

Board members can serve as representatives of their organization and mission by thanking donors, following up with donors, and inviting donors to fundraising events. Having board members who are highly involved with funders will increase and result in higher donor retention rates. Similarly, executive directors, board members, and the board chair can go out and talk to donors and get involved with the community. The more your board members can get out and understand who your donors are and their beliefs, the more relaxed and successful you will be to raise funds. Board giving can look like many different things and doesn’t just have to be about making major donations, it can come in various forms of effort.

Essentially, it’s all about building long-term relationships. It will take time, and building relationships with donors takes effort and dedication. Do not view this as a “one and done” type of situation. Instead, you want to conduct follow-ups, and give frequent updates to your major donors.

In order to have board members feel flexible and comfortable about the role of fundraising, oftentimes consultants come in and coach individual board members to learn about their own beliefs with money. Typically, each board member’s experience with fundraising efforts will be different, so it is more effective to have one-to-one mentorship rather than as a whole team. This can be for board members and also help the nonprofit board of directors with fundraising responsibilities.

What Can Your Nonprofit Board Do to Reach Fundraising Goals?

Once the roles of the board have been solidified for your nonprofit fundraising, you can assess the logistics. When thinking about conducting a fundraising campaign, you want to do a deep analysis of your service before you think of how to raise money. From a sales perspective, we know you can’t sell a bad product for very long. When we apply this to nonprofit fundraising, you want to make sure what you are doing with your donor’s money is actually going to make an impact. Additionally, you want to understand and stick to a proper revenue model.

When it comes to your board members, it is important that each board member is able to tap into their passion and commitment regarding the organization. It is one thing to work in an organization as a job, but it’s another to have a deep emotional connection and soul purpose attached to that occupation. Employees that have had experiences that relate to the organization’s mission can help make greater connections between work and money. Having a real passion for what you do enables staff to think about partnerships at a more visceral level.

How can this help increase fundraising? Keeping board members in high connection with the organization’s mission can bring in potential donors, increase meaningful connections, and create long-term donations for the capital campaigns. When board members have worked for the nonprofit for a long time, it can be easy to lose sight of fundraising strategy, and their personal connection to the organization. When these two are positively reinforced, it can instantly bring in more funds. When hiring new board members it can help to have a proper job description so your candidates can see if their beliefs align with the organizations.

A way to help board members feel connected to the organization is to have frequent mission moments/ case statements, for them to see that all their efforts can be hard work is actually making change. Sometimes even going to visit a community and seeing the changes and impacts in person and help board members and nonprofit leaders that extra boost to keep going. Even for new board members, this can be helpful because it can allow them to feel quickly welcomed and emerged into the organization and their work. Having frequent board meetings, webinars, and social media postings are ways to also help board engagement.

About the Guest, Gayle Gifford from Cause & Effect Inc

Bio: Gayle has spent most of her time in the trenches, organizing for peace, environmental, human, and civil rights. She served as Director of Development and Communications at PLAN USA, as Deputy Director/Director of Development and Marketing at Save The Bay, and as Director of Development at CityYear RI before launching her consulting business in 1996.

In 2002, Gayle earned the advanced fundraising credential, ACFRE, from the Association of Fundraising Professionals, a distinction held by only 100 or so fundraisers worldwide as well as getting her masters in organization and management at Antioch University in New England

In Gayle’s spare time, she is a volunteer and board member, currently serving as board president at Blackstone Academy Charter School and most recently as vice-chair of the board at WaterFire Providence. She also serves on the Advisory Council for Latino Dollars for Scholars of Rhode Island and the RI Museum of Science and Art.

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