GuideStar Blog

9 Ways to Engage and Motivate Your Board Members to Raise Money

Recently I provided a webinar for Candid (formerly GuideStar and Foundation Center) called How to Engage Board Members in Fundraising in 15 Minutes Per Month (recording available here). There were a number of great questions at the end of the webinar.

I promised the attendees I would respond in a blog post. This is that post, and I thought my regular readers (like you) would benefit from the answers, too.


Work Wonders by Redefining the Word “Fundraising” for Your Board

Novices equate the word “fundraising” with “the ask”—the moment when the gift is requested in person, at an event, online, through the mail, or by phone.

Taken holistically, as I make clear in my book What Every Board Member Needs to Know, Do, and Avoid, fundraising is really a cycle of activities that includes identifying prospective donors, educating and cultivating them, asking for their support, recognizing their contribution, and deepening their commitment by engaging them in the organization’s mission.

Given this framework, we need to redefine the word “fundraising.”


Cultivating a Culture of Philanthropy on Your Board

Ask not-for-profit board members if they enjoy fundraising and their responses will vary widely. Some members are happy to participate if given the green light by their organizations. In my experience, however, many board members find soliciting donations uncomfortable or even distasteful. Some feel they don't have the necessary personal connections or wealth. Or they say, "It's just not my job."

Today, however, fundraising is everyone's job if a not-for-profit is to be successful and sustainable.


Thoughtful Solutions for Reluctant Fundraising Board Members

If you've worked at (or with) a nonprofit, you've struggled with your board members at some point. We all have. It's normal! The relationship between nonprofits and their boards is that of checks and balances and strategy. Frustration happens.

One of the most common sources of frustration is getting board members involved in fundraising. Many—maybe even most—nonprofits expect their board members to support their fundraising efforts both by donating and by taking on an active role in finding and recruiting donors. Getting board members to donate is pretty straightforward, but getting them to actively raise money for you is another thing altogether.


The Fundraising Cheat Sheet for Board Members

Attention spans have shrunk today, especially with board members and volunteers who have myriad responsibilities weighing upon them. In this vein, here’s a quick recounting of the most important fundraising truths they need to know.


Rules of (Board) Engagement: How to Activate Your Board as Fundraisers

You’ve recruited a strong, dynamic, and influential board. So, what now? It’s time to activate your board as fundraisers. Each of your board members needs to actively participate in fundraising to support your organization. Cultivating a fundraising mindset among your board of directors is a critical step in implementing a culture of philanthropy. 


Overcome Nonprofit Board Fundraising Resistance through Storytelling, Part 2

In Part 1 of this two-part series we discussed your board members’ role in fundraising, and how to help them embrace it more fully. It begins with taking away their fears and showing them how to reframe the task from “yucky chore” to “gift of a compelling tale.”

The next step is figuring out the types of tales your board members (and you!) can tell and/or elicit from the prospects they approach for gifts.


Overcome Nonprofit Board Fundraising Resistance through Storytelling, Part 1

Is your board resisting fundraising? Are you having a difficult time motivating them to be a part of this essential activity at your organization?

One way to help your board discover the joy of fundraising is to show them it’s really about telling and hearing stories, not asking!


The Unspoken Truth about Boards and Fundraising

Does everyone on your board raise money?

If the answer is “No!”—perhaps the question makes you laugh or groan or grind your teeth—you’re not alone.

How do I know? By far, the most popular service I offer is board fundraising training. Because so many boards struggle to raise money, demand is endless. (Note to consultants: if you want to build your business, improve your skills as a fundraising trainer.)


Five Questions Every Board Member Needs to Ask about Fundraising

Ask practically any executive director or development professional what they want most from their board of directors and you’re all but certain to hear “Help with fundraising!” It’s the nonprofit cri de coeur.

Such help will be more forthcoming if before recruiting a board candidate you encourage him or her to ask the five telling questions listed below.