The Fundraising Board Member
If you could write the perfect fundraising job description for your board members, what would you include?
Many board members are not aware of the full extent of their fundraising responsibilities. Approving the budget is not only a fiscal decision, it is also a fundraising decision! Ultimately, the board is accountable for achieving the funding goals.
A Job Description
If you could write the perfect fundraising job description for your board members, what would you include? Consider these seven responsibilities:
Honestly, you don’t find prayer as a requirement for most board job descriptions. That’s unfortunate. We recruit potential board members based on their business acumen, but we should consider their spiritual leadership. Boards wrestle with difficult decisions setting the course for your organization. It is too easy for all of us to lean on our own understanding but your ministry needs the Spirit’s wisdom. Prayer must be a central focus not just an afterthought.
Warren Buffet requires each of his executives to invest in the company to have “skin in the game.” He believes a person makes better decisions if they have something at stake. One common excuse for not giving is, “I give my time.” That’s great but your ministry cannot balance the budget with a gift of time. Board members lead by example. They must give generously and encourage others to give. Others are motivated to give when board members sacrificially give their time, talent, and treasure.
Relationships are the basis of successful fundraising. Your ministry needs an expanded circle of friends. Board members can open doors that others can’t. One board member commented, “Every member of our board should constantly be in conversations with other people to find out where God is hiding money!”
Board members can host small meet-and-greet events in their homes or other venues. Invite prospective donors on a tour of your ministry to see its impact in changed lives firsthand. Use the social proof principle to influence new donors. If your ministry deserves a board member’s support, it deserves a donor’s support.
Board members can identify, cultivate, and solicit donors for your ministry.
Board members can identify, cultivate, and solicit donors for your ministry. Some may ask independently; others may involve staff. Not everyone is comfortable asking but a board member asking their friends is more effective than staff members asking because they can say, “Join me in supporting this great work.”
Some board members limit their involvement to a monthly lunch meeting, but it should be so much more. One board member decided to introduce one person per month to the executive director. He opened doors and successfully brought new donors to the ministry. It didn’t just happen but required a proactive effort to make connections.
A personal phone call from a board member thanking a donor for their support is a very effective way to deepen donor relationships. Divide the top 100 donors among board members to make thank you calls. A spirit of gratitude will distinguish your ministry from others and bless your board members and your donors.
A Great Example
Kevin is a trustee of a Christian college who also serves as board chair of a Christian school. He believes fundraising is a key part of his board member responsibilities.
Kevin says: “When you agree to serve as a board member, you are lending your credibility and professional reputation to that organization. A board member’s presence on a board should give other donors confidence the organization is worthy of their support. Development directors are paid to ask people for money, but it makes a big difference when a volunteer asks. I’ve never really hesitated in asking someone for support. To me, it’s a privilege to talk with someone about a ministry I truly believe in.
It doesn’t work if you are pushy, demanding, and expecting. I don’t make cold asks, but just present the need and trust God to work in that person’s heart. You don’t want to be that guy who was afraid to ask for a gift for fear of offending someone and find out later the donor gave a big gift to another organization—because they had the courage to ask.
I enjoy meeting new people and developing new friendships. It’s fun to see someone else catch a passion for your ministry. Instead of harming my business relationships, I’ve found the exact opposite to be true. My involvement in fundraising has actually strengthened relationships, not weakened them.”
Passion is the Key
These seven board responsibilities can be summarized with one word—passion. Recruit individuals who love your organization's mission and will wholeheartedly dedicate themselves to advancing it.
Ron Haas is Vice President for The Timothy Group. For 21 years, Ron has served Timothy Group clients with major donor solicitation, strategic planning, board training, grant writing, annual fund development, and capital campaigns. His book, Ask for a Fish: Bold, Faith-Based Fundraising, (Ron Haas, 2013), guides ministry leaders to “find out where God is hiding money!”
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