Dear Board of Directors: It’s your JOB to raise money.


The Center on Philanthropy at IU has been teaching through The Fund Raising School about this topic since at least 1990. It’s not something new or odd or hard. It’s regularly part of “best practices” lists for successful nonprofits. So, why are we still having to convince executive directors and their boards that it’s their JOB to not only raise money but to ensure the continued SUCCESSFUL raising of money for as long as the organizations exists?

You got me.

I just completed a fundraising audit report for an organization in Kansas and the number one finding: the board isn’t involved in fundraising. My number one recommendation? Get the board involved in fundraising.

Since every situation is unique, it’s hard to say just one thing that can help a board understand its role in fundraising. Generally, it has to be an initiative spearheaded by a board chair. Getting him or her on the fundraising bandwagon will greatly increase your chance for success.

The fundraising plan (with explicit board responsibilities) also must become so integral to the life of the organization that it will outlive the current staff and volunteers. People come and go and each of us has different talents, skills, and interests. Advancing the mission of the organization through effective fundraising can’t be allowed ebb and flow. The Board of Directors bears full responsibility for making this happen.

In a nutshell, this is my major criticism of most nonprofit boards: they don’t take (and probably don’t fully understand) the process of maintaining a consistent focus on annual giving and donor cultivation. They allow themselves to get sidetracked by petty, mundane, or insignificant issues, challenges, and projects.

What’s your plan to engage your board in fundraising?

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