Boards Who Won’t Fundraise: Three Shocking but Unfortunately Familiar Scenarios

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. They liked it that way.
These were boards that won’t.
If you want to develop a board that fundraises, you like a physcian need to diagnosis your board’s condition. If your board is helping to fundraise, this is healthy. If your board fails to help fundraise, they are not.  Ask why. Your diagnosis will lead you to the best management approach. Below you will find three board conditions, I’ve encountered in my twenty plus years of serving the nonprofit communiyt, from the most common to the least common.

#1. Boards Who Will Soon

This board, with persuasion, education, and hand-holding, begins to help raise donated income.  With your leadership,  they grasp the importance and urgency of gathering donations to ensure the nonprofit’s success and longevity. You can help them to realize their unique leadership role in generating revenue. You can challenge them to develop fundraising and development skills.
This is the most common board situation. While you’ll encounter inital reluctance, you can overcome it with education and practical requests for fundraising related tasks and lots of board successes

#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. Sometimes reading about windfall gifts that other nonproift recieved inspire boards that won’t fundraise to get active. They realize they are missing opportunities to help your organization.
I once worked with an organization whose most vocal board members definitely did not fundraising. However, via private interviews, I discovered an enclave of yes–that is, people willing to help.  To move forward, this sub-group of leaders just needed to know the existence of others. Using a customized approach combining coaching, board term limits, and peer pressure, we created an entirely different board culture–shortening a mutli-year, multi-CEO process into a year.
Your goal here is to shorten the time it will take them to get on board. You take nibbles of the elephant. Educate your board members and asking them to do small safe tasks that help you raise funds.  By the way, don’t call these fundraising until after your board members have completed them.

#3. Boards Who Won’t

You yell fire into room and nobody moves. If this is your board meeting when it comes raising contributions, all the logic and the emotion in the world won’t motivate them. They have non-correctable issues. Sometimes they explain that its philosophical. Fundraising is begging and beneath them. They take it as a point of pride not to fundraise. Often no matter what they say it’s fear.  They collectively agree to resist every attempt to engage them.
Of course, if this is your board, you will continue to invite your board to generate contributions because it will improve your board members lives. At the same time,  you create alternative mechanisms 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 boards you have. A correct diagnosis will avoid wasting time, banging your head against the wall, and lead to more donated income with less effort.

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