Fundraising is a challenge for nearly every board. According to Leading with Intent, 60% of CEOs and 58% of board chairs identify it as one of the most important areas for board improvement. You can’t sustain board engagement in fundraising without a culture that prioritizes the fundraising role for every board member. Use the following tips to cultivate a better board fundraising culture.

1. Begin at the beginning

Set the expectation for fundraising in the early stages of board cultivation and recruitment. Many boards include a section on fundraising and personal giving in the board expectation agreement, but it also helps to mention fundraising during interviews with prospective candidates. Say it early and say it often.

2. Reframe fundraising

Asking for financial support can be scary to those who haven’t done it in the past. Don’t forget that there a lot of ways to aid in fundraising. Hosting events, sharing contacts, and making thank-you calls are all vital parts of the fundraising process and some of your board members will be better at some activities than others. Meet them where they are and then help them grow.

3. Make your mission memorable

Board members who understand and can articulate the mission are going to be much more effective at fundraising. Can your board members recite the mission? Does the board review the mission periodically? Does it include mission moments in its meetings? Make sure your mission remains front of mind and tip of tongue for your board.

4. Develop your strategy (together)

There’s a temptation to turn to the board and say, “Just go raise all the money that you can!” Instead, engage the board in developing a fundraising strategy that incorporates a variety of activities, and then track the success of that strategy with the board. The result will be an engaged and invested group that understands the organization’s funding priorities.

5. Practice, practice, practice

The best way to succeed at fundraising is to master the art of asking. Make sure your board regularly uses a few role-playing exercises to get comfortable with fundraising conversations. This book offers a great exercise.

6. Root for your rock stars

If your board chair, chief executive, and director of development make a point to publically acknowledge successful fundraisers on the board, they can help frame fundraising in a positive way and identify potential mentors for reluctant fundraisers to seek out.

Wondering where your organization’s board stands in terms of their culture around fundraising? Check out this excerpt that WealthEngine has exclusively arranged with BoardSource to bring you from the Fearless Fundraising for Nonprofit Boards, Second Edition publication – Assess Your Board’s Fundraising Culture.


Danielle M. Henry is currently the Marketing and Communications Manager at BoardSource, the national resource for nonprofit organizations looking to strengthen the effectiveness and impact of their leadership at the highest level — the board of directors. In addition to managing social media and publications, she also serves as the primary demand generation strategist, building multi-channel campaigns that drive demand for the organization’s products and services. Before joining BoardSource eight years ago, Danielle served as the International Wire Coordinator for Gannett News Service. Danielle is board chair for the Rhode Island Ave. Main Street, one of eight Main Street programs across the District of Columbia – each working toward the positive redevelopment of our city’s traditional business districts. Danielle is a former Allen Lee Hughes Fellow for Arena Stage and holds a bachelor’s degree in Theatre Studies from Butler University. Follow Boardsource on Twitter @boardsource.


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