In our last #ynpchat a participant stated that if you arent willing to fundraise you shouldnt be on the board. Fundraising is an intimidating part of being a board member, especially to those who dont have a lot of money or a lot of connections. Participants shared some great insights on what to do about the “give or get” requirement:
@CrookdRiverWmn: Remember that most boards are for small organizations. Big orgs with fancy fundraising balls & corporate contacts are minority.
@gtak: Board service – no fundraising experience & limited disposable income – offer to help research and write a grant proposal
@iaagustin: There’s more to a board than fundraising. Expertise in cause (ie stats & issues) & connections (new collaborations) r imp as well
I would add the following:
1. Ask about the give or get policy: Some organizations have a minimum amount of money they require while others ask board members to contribute an amount that is personally significant. Different organizations, at different stages in their development, require different skills and support from their board. A small organization or start up may need you to do more hands on fundraising–grant writing, event planning, for example–than a larger organization. The key is asking and seeing if needs are a good match for your skills.
2. Realize that fundraising itself is diverse: There is an image of a board member with deep pockets simply writing checks and getting his/her wealthy friends to do the same. However, this isnt always the case. There is quite a bit of hands on, hard work that goes into fundraising as a board member and what you can provide is actually quite diverse. For example, can you get in kind donations or discounts? Plan an event or get your friends to attend an event? Help write a grant? Interested in social media or online fundraising? Also, asking for people to donate, doesnt mean they have to donate thousands of dollars. We have learned that small amounts can have a big impact, so dont be afraid to ask your peers for support. What really matter are your dedication and enthusiasm.
3. Consider volunteering first: If you still find the fundraising aspect intimidating, ask to help the development team. In addition to getting to know the staff and gaining experience, you can also see what types of fundraising are used and needed–valuable experiences to bring to the board.
When I joined a board last year I asked about the give or get requirement and about current fundraising strategies. The organization I am on the board of is very small and hands on so I am able to try different ways of raising money in addition to making my own contribution. Last month I planned an event (which I had NEVER done before) and got people to attend. What strategies have worked for you?
Recommended reading: How much should board members give?