Build a Board Culture of Fundraising

It can be frustrating when you want your board to fundraise but you can't quite figure out what it will take for them to do it.

There are three reasons your board isn’t fundraising:

  1. The expectation that they fundraise for the organization hasn’t been expressed to them.

  2. They haven’t been held accountable for meeting the expectation of fundraising.

  3. They haven’t been given the tools to successfully fundraise for your organization.

Maybe your board members understand their obligation and they’re at the table ready to go.

But your board still isn’t fundraising. What’s going wrong?

It’s one thing to know you are expected to do something, and quite another to follow through on it.

I can attest to this: My past is littered with good intentions and poor follow through. Even on boards I’ve sat on. Even when I care deeply about the organization’s success. Even when I know better.

Sometimes life gets in the way of my best intentions. Board members are volunteers, after all. Life happens.

Mostly, I’ve slipped through the cracks of board obligations because no one held me accountable. Not even my own guilt brings me back on track every time.

And when no one else seems to care… why should I?

For boards to follow through on their core responsibilities, members and the whole of the body need to be held accountable.

And board leadership need to be the ones to do it.

Board leadership—the Chair, Vice Chair, Secretary, and Treasurer, often known as the Executive Committee—set the tone and culture for your board. How they choose to treat board obligations is how the rest of the board follows.

The first board I ever joined I joined after almost a decade in the nonprofit sector. I knew what a board was supposed to do and the role it needed to play.

At my very first board meeting, I asked about the schedule of the Executive Director’s performance review, only to find that the Executive Director didn’t like to be reviewed.

And the chair thought that was just fine. No review was scheduled.

I knew the board I had just joined was obligated to manage the Executive Director, and therefore review her, and I knew the policy of not reviewing the Executive Director meant the board was not ensuring the ongoing health of the organization.

But as a new board member with no