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Your Board Needs to Know: Fundraising Doesn’t Happen by Magic

I was talking to a board member of a multi-million nonprofit the other day who actually said to me: “Oh, our fundraising program runs itself.”

Seriously? Somehow millions of dollars land in this organization’s coffers by magic?  By osmosis? By divine decree? By what exactly?!

I’ve been fuming about this conversation ever since.

Not only is this board member’s attitude deeply insulting, the ramifications of this kind of ignorance are significant. If a board member thinks that fundraising revenue is coming in by magic they won’t feel the need to participate in fundraising or approve essential investments in fundraising.

So I ask you – how much do your board members know about how the money comes in? Do they understand more than the bottom line?

If not, it’s time to get creative. Here are just a few ways to educate your board about your fundraising program:

  • Put together a Jeopardy or Trivia game for your next board meeting or retreat and engage the board in a fun and interactive conversation about how fundraising works at your organization.
  • Meet with each board member one-on-one to share with them the top-line picture of your fundraising program and ask them for their ideas.
  • Bring a development staff member as a guest to periodic board meetings to present on their particular area of focus.
  • Bring in a speaker to explain the fundamentals of fundraising and what it takes to acquire and retain donors.
  • Gift every board member with a good book on fundraising. One option is Kay Grace’s Fundraising Mistakes that Bedevil All Boards.
  • And more. We know how creative you are, Dear Reader. The sky’s the limit!

Keep in mind that sometimes, the best advocate is another board member who gets it. Have them do the talking to their board peers and you may get a little further with your message.

Now, chances are your board members have been told all about your fundraising program and how it’s not run by autopilot, but they’re just not listening.

If that’s the case, don’t give up! Educate and reinforce. And repeat. Your board needs to know the effort it takes to fundraise so they can fully support your development program. Make it a priority to get them up to speed. You won’t regret it.

Image by Kranich17 from Pixabay

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