Board member, how about giving fundraising a try?

I don’t want to be one of those people who assumes that every member of every board is cut out for fundraising. And slap me down if I veer toward a description of board members as ATMs or “pay pals” for the organizations they serve.

As I’ve said time again here at Generous Matters, the chief end of board members is to give their utmost for the board’s highest. Exemplary board service means bringing your A-game to the boardroom, meeting after meeting, year after year. The board member’s calling begins and ends with governance.

For all that, however, I’m not ready to excuse board members from responsibilities beyond the board room, fundraising specifically. This isn’t an instance either/or; it’s a matter of both/and.

In joining a board, you take on the dual commitments of providing the best possible governance when gathered with board peers and when away from the boardroom, of helping to gather in the funds and relationships needed to advance the organization’s mission.

So, dear board member, are you ready to join the ranks of the “sufficiently engaged” by giving fundraising a try?

Source: Underdeveloped: A National Study of Challenges Facing Nonprofit Fundraising

Within small to mid-size nonprofits and ministries in particular, the task of advancing the organization is too much for the CEO to handle, even when aided by a one or two-person development team. With mission fulfillment on the line, where can the fundraising team go but to the board?


The opportunity to participate in fundraising is both a responsibility and a privilege for board members. Development work within a faith-based organization is an extension of the board’s fiduciary role and an opportunity to engage in ministry – to have a part in growing hearts that are generous toward God. However, if the chart above paints an accurate picture, it’s a tiny minority of board members who CEOs feel are sufficiently involved in development work.

To be fair, the idea of fundraising is scary and uncomfortable for most folks (including you, perhaps). Getting involved in development work pushes reluctant fundraisers beyond their comfort zones.

The good news is that there are many ways by which board members can contribute to the organization’s fundraising success and not all require actually asking for money. Opening doors, saying thank you, telling your story of commitment to the cause, hosting an event . . . the list goes on. And there’s prayer, always prayer.

Whatever your comfort level, personality type, or network potential, if you have the will, you can find a way to help out with fundraising. And when you do, something amazing is likely to happen.

As Andy Molinsky, author of a Harvard Business Review blog praising the benefits of working outside your comfort zone, assures:

You may stumble, but that’s OK. In fact, it’s the only way you’ll learn, especially if you can appreciate that missteps are an inevitable — and in fact essential — part of the learning process. In the end, even though we might feel powerless in situations outside our comfort zone, we have more power than we think. So, give it a go. Be honest with yourself, make the behavior your own, and take the plunge. My guess is you’ll be pleased at having given yourself the opportunity to grow, learn, and expand your professional repertoire.

Specific to having given fundraising a try, you’ll be better equipped for your governance role. And that’s not just my guess. It’s a certainty.

So what do you say? Are you ready, board member, to give fundraising a try?

For more about boards and fundraising, see:

Answers to questions about boards and fundraising

Oh where, oh where is the proud fundraising board

It you ain’t got money, honey . . .



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