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How is Your Board Doing?


Every development officer wishes their board would be involved in the development work of their nonprofit. But we all know this is not reality. If you are in a ministry, it is not uncommon to find board members who have been on the board many years and have never been involved in "fundraising".

I have one client who is starting a new program in a new city. A wellknown community leader volunteered to be on the board and then recruited other leaders to join this new board. Then the executive director found out he had told them they did not have to do any "fundraising". So this new program has not even started and the development efforts have an uphill battle on their hands.

There are many books and conferences to get the board involved in development. I want to offer you a couple of strategies that I have used with my clients that have met with success.

  1. The Donor Thank You Call. I have board members make thank you calls to donors during the fall months. I have them use the following script:
    • Do you believe your gifts are being used wisely?
    • Do you have any questions about what we are doing in the ministry?
    When the board makes these calls they hear amazing things. Donors LOVE to give to your organization. They will share how thankful they are for the organization and will be very impressed that a board member called. The board members usually report back that the phone calls gave them a totally new view of development and donors. They find that development does not "raise funds", but rather builds relationships with people that share their passion.
  2. The Annual Board Commitment. I prepare a form listing all the different types of involvement opportunities available to board members during the next year. This includes giving a single gift or monthly giving. It also includes sponsorships for events, hosting a table at an event, or introducing the executive director to donors. Then ask the board to make their commitments as they demonstrate leadership in generosity and giving.

So every year the board leads the generosity and development efforts of the organization by being the first to give. It sets the tone and allows them to see how development builds relationships and not just raises funds.

So give you board of directors easy to accomplish development steps so they may learn development strategy, hear from donors, and become leaders in the process. Allow them to be successful in small steps and they may grow to be leaders and participants in development in the future.

Till next time,

Dr. John R. Frank, CFRE
Author, Teacher, Consultant