Why Fundraising is an “F” Word for Board Members – and How to Fix It

Are your organization’s board members allergic to fundraising?

There is a way to turn that around, according to Rachel Muir, a nonprofit founder, fundraising consultant and a keynote speaker at the 2020 Peer-to-Peer Professional Forum conference.

At most nonprofits, the answer to that question appears to be yes.

Many board members will step forward to do P2P fundraising if you ask them the right way and give them the tools they need to succeed, says Muir. Try these three tactics:

Learn what they like – Muir says too many nonprofits view their board members merely as connectors to other donors.

Instead of sending them a list of major-gift targets to see if they know any, give them a menu of ways they can support the organization (including being part of your P2P campaigns) and ask them which they would most like to get involved in. That approach will help ensure that they’ll be engaged once they get started.

Treat them like team captains – Once you determine which members of your board are interested in P2P, steward them as if they are team captains. Your board members are already highly engaged in seeing you succeed, so they’ll likely be receptive to coaching. “It’s about giving them one-on-one attention and keeping them engaged and motivated,” she says. “It’s not any different than what you do with your team captains.”

Show them what works – Board members aren’t often natural fundraisers. But they’re usually quite smart – and they learn quickly. If you can show them how others have been successful in P2P fundraising and what motivates your donors, Muir says they are likely to follow those examples.

“Board members are people, too,” Muir says. “A lot of them come to the board to achieve professional goals. Find out what motivates them and make it fun.”

Words for the wise when working to engage any prospective high-value fundraiser!