A fundraising plan contains the fundraising activities your organization will implement over a set period of time. These activities will have specific, measurable goals. The end result will be a sustainable fundraising program that provides the necessary funds to fulfill the nonprofit organization’s mission. The fundraising plan is a powerful tool for any nonprofit. Before proceeding to Part 3 in our Writing a Fundraising Plan, please review Part 1: Planning to Plan and Part 2: Reaching Out Into the Community.
Part 3 of our series on Writing a Fundraising Plan examines the importance of engaging your board in fundraising. Board Source states, “One of the board’s foremost responsibilities is to secure adequate resources for the organization to fulfill its mission.” A vast majority of nonprofit executives interpret this to mean that board members should make a financial commitment to the organization and secure donations from others. Research by the Nonprofit Research Collaborative demonstrates that nonprofits with boards engaged in fundraising were more likely to meet their fundraising goals.
Starting at the Top
Having a board of directors that consists of individuals who are donors to your organization and are also willing to ask others to give is key to raising money in the community. Fundraising success with board members often begins with the organization’s bylaws. Experience has shown that board members who have term limits are more effective than board members who stay on forever. New blood on the board brings in new ideas and new names of people to solicit. It is a balancing act of keeping the seasoned members and recruiting new faces. If your bylaws do not call for board term limits, then the board needs to address this topic.
Creating a Board Matrix
Prior to recruiting new board members, it is helpful to do a board matrix. Know what your board looks like – consider gender, ethnicity, age and skills. There may be other attributes that are important to your organization to add to the list. Once you have placed current board members into the matrix, see where there are holes that you need to fill. Then brainstorm names of people who could fit each open slot. Know who the best person is to talk to the board member prospect about your organization. You do need people with specific characteristics to fill the open spaces, but most of all you need people who care about the organization’s mission. A face-to-face discussion is the best way to recruit a new board member.
In addition to having term limits, when board members are recruited they need to be aware of the expectations. How much time and money are required to sit on your board? Most people have limits with regard to these two resources. Be up front and non-apologetic about what the organization needs. It is important to create a document, preferably one page, that clearly states the expectations. Having board members sign off on the document, often called Roles and Responsibilities of Board Members, creates a pact between the board member and the organization.
Orientation and Training
Once you have recruited new board members, it is important to provide them with an orientation to the board and the organization. Most boards find it helpful to have a board manual. A board member manual helps board members stay organized and be more effective. Board members should also receive ongoing board training. The training could be a 10 minute presentation from a staff member at the board meeting or a five minute testimony about services rendered from a client who was helped.
Assigning a seasoned board member to mentor a new board member for two to three months can be very helpful as well. This will facilitate communications and comradery among the board members.
The Next Step
Part 4 of our fundraising plan series will address individual donors. Cultivating, soliciting and stewarding individual donors should be the center of any fundraising program and the future support of your nonprofit’s mission.