Board of Directors Fundraising
Fundraising: How to Help Your Directors get Better at Something they Hate

By Dustin McKissen, November 30, 2015

Passion for the cause. Giving back. Sharing expertise. Being recognized as a leader.

People join boards for a variety of reasons, and of the reasons listed, fundraising is never mentioned. The simple reality is that most people, including people volunteering on a board of directors, do not relish the task of fundraising. It’s always awkward asking other people for money, and it’s always hard to hear “no”.

But directors have the ability to be your organization’s most powerful advocate and effective fundraiser—and fundraising doesn’t have to be as bad as they think.

Here are a few ways to make fundraising easier on your directors:

1. Have your director focus on sharing his or her passion for the cause.

Board members usually have careers or businesses of their own, families to care for, and lives to live. That director is taking time away from their business, spending less time with their family, and carving time out of their life to help lead your organization.


Passion for what you do. They believe in you. When they are talking with a potential donor, have them focus on that story, rather than on “fundraising”. Encourage them to share with their network the story of why they are taking away from their life to be a part of what you’re doing.

When it comes to fundraising, one of the most effective tools is a volunteer leader sharing why they were inspired to be a part of the organization.

2. Model the “ask”.

As nonprofit executives, when we enlist our directors in fundraising, we often assume that they will just know how to do it, as if asking others to give you money is a natural skillset, and something people just know how to do.

It isn’t.

In fact, most directors have achieved some measure of success in their career or business by the time they become board members. Often that success is the result of a fierce sense of independence, a character trait that doesn’t easily lend itself to asking others for money.

If you expect directors to raise money, you need to show them how. This sentence needs correction:  Have a board member who is an adept fundraiser who can show the way through mentoring. Bring directors without fundraising expertise to meetings with donors.

When it comes to fundraising, mentor, model, and show the way.

3. Learn how your directors want to be recognized for their fundraising success.

You have a wide variety of personalities on your board. That’s a good thing. But it also means that you may need more than just one method of recognizing your directors when they succeed at raising money.

Some directors will want very public recognition, and that’s okay. Wanting to be publicly recognized for doing something good doesn’t make it any less meaningful.

Other directors may feel less comfortable about public recognition—but that doesn’t mean they don’t deserve a private expression of gratitude and appreciation from the organization’s CEO or Executive Director.

It’s year-end fundraising time, and you need all of the help you can get. Make sure your directors are ready to share their story, know how to make “the ask”, and are recognized when they succeed.


Make sure you have more time to spend on strategic activities like fundraising, by spending less time on activities like preparing for board meetings!

Interested in learning more about making your board better fundraisers?

 Watch our free webinar, "
Training Your Board in Fundraising",
hosted by Governance and Fundraising experts Thomas Bakewell and Carol Weisman

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You can schedule a demo and learn more about how BoardPaq can help you create a more efficient, effective, and strategically focused Board through paperless meetings!

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Dustin McKissen is the founder of McKissen + Company, an association management and marketing firm. He is a Certified Association Executive and has served as an executive or consultant to a wide variety trade associations, professional societies, and nonprofits.
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