10 Fundraising Responsibilities of Every Board Member

What are a board member’s appropriate responsibilities when it comes to fundraising?

Here’s my list – of reasonable, realistic, doable activities that EVERY single board member can do.

Whether they are wealthy or not.GreenThumbsUp1

Whether they are connected or not.

Whether they are introverts or not.

And whether they are afraid of fundraising or not.

These are jobs for EVERYBODY!

1. Make a proud, personal annual gift.

First of all, every board member has a moral duty to support the organization financially.

It just shows that they are putting their money where their mouth is!

If board members (who hold the legal responsibility for your nonprofit) don’t support your nonprofit financially, then why should anybody else?

The gift they make can be large or small. But it ALWAYS needs to be a gift each board member is personally proud of making.

Here’s my advice on how to successfully solicit your board. 🙂

2. Understand your organization’s fundraising program and strategies.

Many board members don’t understand how fundraising really works today.

They need to understand the specific strategies you are using to generate contributions.

They need to understand where the money is going and what you are funding.

For example, your board members need to understand the financial profile of your fundraising events.

They need to understand the basics of how direct mail works – and how major gifts works.

Then they can support you!

3. Help thank donors.

This is the easiest and most joyful fundraising job of all!thank-you_350x215

It’s one of the most important jobs your board can do!


Because when you spend tons of time warmly thanking your wonderful donors, you bring them even closer to your organization.

And because they feel deeply connected to your cause, your donors will keep giving again and again.

The result?

Your board members have helped you create a sustainable fundraising cash flow!

4. Communicate with donors and tell them about your organization’s great work.

I think that EVERY board member needs to be able to serve as a Personal Advocate for the cause.

Every board member needs to know their own elevator speech.

They need some interesting stories about your organizations great impact in the community.

They need a statistic or two that will throw somebody on the floor.

Give your board members training in messaging. Give it to them often.

They will appreciate it. And they will spread the word.

5. Help identify prospective donors and open the door with introductions.

When I ask Executive Directors what they need MOST from their board members in fundraising, they say one thing:

“I just need my board members to open doors.”

And board members would be happy to help if they just had a bit more training and support.

Board members should help spread the word!

Board members should help spread the word!

Train your board members to become “door openers.” 

Make it easy for them.

Try by setting up opportunities for them to bring their friends in to volunteer, or to an event or on a tour.

6. Help cultivate donors.

When you start talking about “cultivation,” sometimes board members get nervous.

But cultivation can really be fun.

There are lots of easy jobs board members can do to help cultivate donors.

I particularly like asking them to host tours. Or host small socials or porch parties.

Just make it easy and make it fun for them.

7. When appropriate, ask for contributions.

Not every single board member will be good at “asking.”

Most are not trained in sales or solicitations. They don’t understand how to do it successfully  at all.

So let the board members who ARE good at it do the asking.

And let everyone else support fundraising by doing all these other jobs – which are important too!

8. Support and encourage all fundraising activities and the fundraising team.

Board members need to be generally supportive of all the fundraising activities and strategies.

They need to encourage their peers and their staff, celebrate the fundraising team, and cheer them on.

When staff is praised, they will do a much better job.

When board members make fundraising important, everyone is more successful.

And more dollars come in the door!

9. Ensure that fundraising has adequate resources and support.

What happens when an organization invests in and staffs its fundraising operation?

You guessed right –  it raises tons more money than organizations with poorly staffed and underfunded program.

When fundraising is consistently staffed and funded – you have long-term success.

Let’s make sure our board members understand this important point!

10. Attend public events and bring prospects and friends.

Board members need to show up at important events!

They actually have an important role – they are official hosts and hostesses!

You need to tell them what your event priorities are — what’s essential and what’s optional.

Then, when they have a clear idea of what you need from them, they can give it to you.


How would these go over with YOUR board members?

Leave me a comment and let me know!

Create Your Own Fundraising Action Plan For YOUR Board Members!

If you need more help making fundraising fun for your board members and putting them to work where you need them, then join me for my 90 Minute Workshop on Monday Nov. 25 at 2pm ET.

Bring your board members and let’s lighten up, give them easy jobs and get to work! You can find out more here. 

  • Dan Kirsch

    Of course, the challenge is to convey these “responsibilities” in a way that makes your board member most likely to meet them. And it’s not by saying, “you NEED to do this and that. . .” Implicit in these tasks is staff’s responsibility to provide information, data, training, support, encouragement, feedback, and appreciation to the volunteers they are expecting to undertake these important activities. There is a mutual promise underlying all of this. You, board member, agree to take on a task that is critical to advancing our mission but which may be new, unfamiliar, and uncomfortable to some degree for you. In return, we promise to give you what you need, to put you in situations where you can succeed, to communicate effectively with you, and to appreciate your efforts rather than take you for granted.

  • Richard L Freedlund

    Wise advice that I have given and lived by in the past. BTW, how are you enjoying this cold Illinois weather? I just noticed you are in Chicago today.

  • loriljacobwith

    Great list, Gail! I’d add to the list: Hold each other accountable for what you agree to do individually or as a board. For example: If 3 people say they will make thank you calls or send thank you notes, recognize them at the next board meeting and/or show have them report on their activity. If only 2 of the three do what they said they’d do, in a fun, non threatening way, talk about how to engage the 3rd person in the future. Use dashboards or other visual displays to show what was agreed on vs. what was done. Building in peer-to-peer accountability can help to ensure any and all of the items on your list actually happen! Thanks for sharing your list.

  • Dave Eshbaugh

    Good suggestions. I’d add that (ideally) board members should make their donations (or pledge to donate) at the very beginning of the organization’s fiscal year. By doing so: (1) they’re “out front” leading the organization’s annual fundraising; (2) since they’ve already donated, they’re more likely to feel empowered and get more directly involved in the organization’s development and fundraising goals; (3) from the very beginning of the fiscal year, staff can report 100% board participation to grantmakers and other donors; and (4) if the board member decides to leave the board during the year, they’ve already helped the organiztion meet its budgeted revenue goals.

  • NiniBean

    We did this last year with great results. When friends of the Board members saw and were told what level Board members had given, they wanted to be part of that same group. Increased our giving levels significantly!

  • gailperry

    Dan you are so right. I do think we should be looking at how to support our board members to get all this done. And that includes motivating them to do a fabulous job. It really is a mutual promise. Thanks for making an important point. Gail

  • gailperry

    Hi Richard! I came and went in a hurry! Chicago was MIGHTY cold! Gail

  • gailperry

    Great point Lori! You are referencing something that I call “culture” – that is, how the board members enforce responsibilities and hold others accountable. It is a challenge, because it has to be handled delicately, don’t you think? Gail

  • gailperry

    Nothing like peer pressure!

  • gailperry

    Love the idea of getting board member donations in EARLY! Yes!

  • Jeanne Redden

    Just re-read this as back up to my very first consultation this evening, with a board that is ready for some major changes! Thanks! We all need a little help getting to that next level.

  • gailperry

    Ah yes, we should bring this out in front of our board members annually don’t you think?

  • Niki Richardson

    I love this – i am creating a ‘menu’ of options for my Board to be supportive of fundraising, and before i went to recreate the wheel i wanted to see if there was something already out there! Thank you! This is exactly what i had in mind!

  • Hi Niki, so glad I could help you! This is a “time-tested” list!