Involv­ing your board and board mem­bers in fund devel­op­ment, part three

Written by
Simone Joyaux
March 26, 2015
You have to help your board members overcome their fear of fundraising.

I've talked about involving your board members in fundraising elsewhere on SOFII (Involving your board members part one and two), but there are always some new angles. And old angles that must be repeated.

We have already established that some, indeed most, board members don't like fundraising, are even frightened by it. Here are some practical ideas to help them overcome their fear and doubts. I've used them all to great success.

1. Explain the fundraising roles of the board and the board member. Always remember, the board is different from the board member; the terms are not interchangeable.

A screening interview will secure commitment to your expectations.

(a) Develop a written job description for the board, adopted as a policy and enforced. This job description outlines the scope of authority and functions of corporate governance. Part of the description talks about the board's role in fundraising. To ensure adequate financial structure, for example, the board – at its meetings – will adopt a budget, a fundraising plan and set policies. The board will define the parameters of board member performance in fundraising development.

(b) Now turn your attention to the individual board members. Adopt clear performance expectations common to all board members. Part of this policy delineates specific expectations in relationship building and fundraising.

Board member performance expectations also include things like: support for the values, mission and vision of the organisation; regular attendance at board meetings and participation in strategic questioning and conversation; support for decisions once made; maintenance of confidentiality and avoidance of conflict of interest.

(c) Here comes the hard part: hold your board members accountable to the performance expectations. Before you nominate anyone to serve on the board, conduct a screening interview and secure commitment to these expectations. Also evaluate board member performance annually – and provide feedback to the weak performers.

2. Establish a board-level fund development committee

a) A board member chairs the committee. Board members and non-board members serve on the committee. Your chief development officer serves as staff to the committee. Together, the committee chair and development officer design meeting agendas and facilitate the committee process.

(b) The committee is not responsible for raising the money. The committee – in partnership with the development officer – helps institutionalise the process of fundraising within the board. The committee helps develop the fundraising plan and helps engage all board members in doing some of the work.

3. Conduct an assessment of your development operation.

Borrow a development audit tool from a colleague. Find one on the Internet. The fund development committee, in partnership with the development officer, can conduct the audit. Share the results with the board and outline how to make change.

4. One of my favourites – host a complaint and whine session.

Host a complaint and whine session.

(a) At a board meeting, or retreat, ask board members to share all that they dislike about fundraising. Ask them to share all their negative experiences and everything that makes them uncomfortable.

(b) A lot of this they should dislike. To much that is done in fundraising is actually not good practice, is often quick fix, transactional and disrespectful. Validate your board members' concerns. Confirm that you won't do the bad stuff. And then explain why some of what they don't like is good to do and how you'll help them do it.

About the author: Simone Joyaux

Simone Joyaux

The late, great Simone P Joyaux, ACFRE was described as ‘one of the most thoughtful, inspirational, and provocative leaders in the philanthropic sector’. A consultant who specialised in fund development, strategic planning and board development, Simone guided countless organisations and professionals during her many years of consulting and coaching, teaching and writing. She taught in the graduate programme for philanthropy at Saint Mary’s University, in Minneapolis, USA. Her books included Keep Your Donors, Strategic Fund Development and Firing Lousy Board Members. As a volunteer, Simone founded the Women’s Fund of Rhode Island, a social justice organisation. Simone and her life partner bequeathed their entire estate to charity. You can find more of Simone’s writing in SOFII’s Simone Joyaux archive, here

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