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Do you ever think about firing your board? If so, you aren’t alone. Most nonprofit professionals I meet are frustrated with their boards.  

In every webinar, classroom training or custom training I do, I get an earful about lackluster boards.

Why do board members fail at fundraising before they even begin?

The number one reason why most board members fail is they came on board under false pretenses. Let’s face it, in our desperation to get them on our board we downplayed the fundraising part of their job. Maybe it wasn’t us, maybe it was another board member who let them off the hook. It’s our job to be upfront with them about the exact role they’ll play in fundraising.  

My solution to this is a heavily detailed board contract that spells out every possible way a board member might fundraise and generally engage with your organization. You can use this free template to craft your comprehensive board contract for your organization.

5 Reasons Board Members Fail to Fundraise (and How to Overcome Them)

Any or all of these 5 beliefs may be keeping your board members from fundraising success:

  1. They think fundraising is just about asking, not about building long term relationships.

Here’s one way fundraising is like proposing marriage: it is not the way you pop the question that determines the answer, it’s how you cultivated the relationship. The same is true of fundraising!

  1. They project their own fears and preferences onto a prospect.

These projections may include: they don’t like being asked, they don’t want a visit, they don’t want to hear from us, I’m bothering them with my call/ask, etc, they don’t like direct mail, the list goes on and on.

You can’t ever project your fears on another person. Those are your issues, fears or preferences – not theirs. Being invited to make the world a better place and have an impact is an opportunity. Giving is a joyous experience that feels good to the donor.

  1. They feel like asking is taking something away from the person.

They think if the prospect gives to you they won’t be able to give to someone else.  I call this the myth of scarcity – the idea that there is only so much to go around and be given.

We don’t have to look any further than the recent ALS challenge to see the fallacy of this belief. The world is full of generous people.

  1. They think it’s going to feel awful. Like begging.

I like to remind board members and fundraisers that you are JUST trying to make the world a better place. Treat your donors with respect and care, share your passion and invite them to be the solution and you can make your donors feel like superheroes.    

  1. They think asking one rich celebrity is all it takes.

As in “Just ask Oprah!” or Just ask Michael Dell…(Richard Branson, Lady Gaga, etc, etc.)

Asking Oprah is not a fundraising strategy. Wealth is no indicator of generosity. Capacity does not indicate propensity to give. Your prospect needs to have some linkage or interest in your cause and perhaps more importantly, you need to have access to them. It doesn’t matter how wealthy Richard Branson is or if he loves animals, if I have no “in” to open the door to a conversation with him for my animal care organization then I’m barking up the wrong tree.

Want to learn more about how to overcome these challenges?

If you are ready to work smarter, not harder managing your board, I hope you will join me for a three part webinar series Get Your Board on Board.

What are some other common mistakes that keep board members from being effective fundraisers?