Nonprofit leaders spend an inordinate amount of time trying to change boards that won't fundraise. Recently, I worked with two sharp leaders with "Never Boards." The first group found fundraising repugnant. They had a nice endowment, strong earned revenue, and a member willing to write checks to cover emergencies.
The second had been hand-picked for compliance with the former CEO's leadership. Their duty came with a promise they would never have to ask for money, and they liked it that way. These were boards who won't.
Diagnosis, like a physician, your board's condition if your board fails to help fundraise. Why? Each diagnosis below requires a different management strategy.
#1. Boards Who Will Soon
This board, with persuasion, education, and hand-holding, takes on fundraising. They understand the importance and urgency of gathering donations to ensure the nonprofit's success and longevity.
#2. Boards Who Will Eventually
This board will fundraise, but it's going to talk a
long time, possibly beyond your watch. Not-yet boards agree fundraising is essential, so
you should do it. I worked with an organization, whose most vocal board members were about no board fundraising. However, via private interviews, I discovered an enclave of yes. To move forward, this sub-group of leaders just needed to know the existence of others. In two years, this board began efficiently fundraising with coaching, board term limits, and peer pressure.
#3. Boards Who Won't
You yell fire into a board meeting. Nobody moves. If this is your board when it comes to collecting contributions, all the logic and the emotion in the world won't motivate them. Sometimes windfall gifts spawn boards who won't fundraise. Other times its philosophical-fundraising is begging and beneath them. They take it as a point of pride not to fundraise. You can, of course, still obtain donated income, and you will always invite your board to generate contributions because it will improve their lives, but you prioritize more accessible ways to grow donations.
The Urgency of Dealing with What Is Real
If you believe in the life-giving vitality of donated funds, and your board's not on board, identify which of the three types of board you have. A correct diagnosis will help you avoid wasting time, banging your head against the wall, and lead you to more donated income.