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By Jack Morrow, CPA, HoganTaylor Assurance Staff

A key role of the board of directors at any nonprofit organization is to contribute to that organization’s fundraising efforts. While the board also has other responsibilities, such as determining the nonprofit’s mission and determining how best to succeed at that mission, a board that fully commits to its fundraising responsibilities can make the difference between an effective organization and an ineffective one.

While a strong board can have a significant impact on a nonprofit’s success, the true expectations are surprisingly low. For example, the book The Nimble Nonprofit, written by Jacob Smith and Trey Beck, has a chapter titled “Your Board of Directors: Good Enough Really is OK.” Too often, nonprofits are settling for whatever they can get. Board members may be operating under the impression that fundraising is not their responsibility. However, there are ways to convey to them how important it is that they be personally involved in fundraising, and to increase their effectiveness at that role.

Board Member Engagement Matters

If potential donors see that there are board members who don’t give to their own organization, they’ll have doubts regarding whether they should give to that organization. Likewise, if there are board members who don’t seem to be involved in the fundraising aspect of an organization, potential donors will ask why: why should I donate to this nonprofit if even its own board isn’t passionate about it? Actively engaged board members provide a sign to potential donors of strong commitment to the organization.

Mission and Fundraising: Not Mutually Exclusive

Sometimes there can be a disconnect between how the board views a nonprofit’s mission and how it view’s the nonprofit’s fundraising initiatives. They may believe that these are two distinct areas, and they can exclusively focus on one or the other. Instead, an effective board should realize that fundraising and organizational missions are not mutually exclusive, but rather that fundraising is an integral part of the organization’s mission. A nonprofit could have the best mission in the world, with outstanding programs that will help countless people, but it won’t accomplish anything if the fundraising side is neglected.

Fundraising Can Be Learned

There are too many people out there who believe that fundraising is a natural ability, one that you either have or don’t have. Instead, it is just like any other skill. It can be improved and developed. The mission of an organization can only be supported by the fundraising provided, therefore learning and understanding fundraising is integral to the tasks of board members.

Organizations generally have one person directly in charge of fundraising. This person could easily address the board with a short training on simple, effective ways to effectively fundraise. A board member should not feel that their fundraising is a task, but rather be honored to aid their organization in raising essential funds.  More than likely, board members have a variety of connections in their professional network involved in charity events. Building connections between these potential donors and the organization is a simple way to start fundraising. By bringing prospective donors to fundraising events, the board members increase the visibility of their organization and build a network.

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