By Andrea McManus, CFRE
Excellence in Canadian Fundraising, published by Civil Sector Press, is the first comprehensive fundraising textbook written by Canadians for Canadians. I am truly honoured to be included with 19 other authors in this essential resource for all Canadian fundraisers. To see more about the book, or put in your order, click here http://bit.ly/excellenceincdnfrbook. Today I am starting a series of blogs based on my chapter ‘Governance and Boards’ which I hope you will find helpful.
According to the dictionary ‘conundrum’ is – “1. a riddle whose answer is or involves a pun.. 2: a question or problem having only a conjectural answer.. 3: an intricate and difficult problem”.
I have always thought that one of the real conundrums in fundraising is the involvement, engagement and interaction with boards of charitable organizations. It seems to be such a natural assumption that your board will be involved in fundraising activities, and not just involved but actually exercising its ‘ownership’ and ‘responsibility’. The reality is usually much more of a mystery and, in fundraising, probably the one single area that presents fundraisers with the most frustration and a never-ending discussion topic.
So what do we do? How do we answer this riddle? How do we solve this intricate and difficult problem? Well, it is neither easy nor quick. Engaging your board in fundraising can be challenging, frustrating, time consuming and exhausting. But when you work with a board that is truly engaged it will be exciting, exhilarating, gratifying and the peak of your fundraising career. Anything that good is surely worth the hard work you must put in.
Here are my twelve top tips:
1. Understand the legal context of governance.
2. Develop your approach to engagement based on how it fits within and for your organization – there is no one size fits all.
3. Know why your board members are on your board and use that information to their and your organization’s benefit.
4. Work with board members one-on-one for personalized support and maximum engagement.
5. Make sure that fundraising is part of board and board member responsibilities and communicated them during the recruitment process.
6. Be involved in the recruitment process – get the board members you need.
7. Use your Development Committee to access the full board. Make them your champion.
8. Encourage your board to fully discuss and adopt a board giving program that will allow them to proudly give within their personal capacities.
9. Present fundraising strategically and don’t box yourself into being measured simply on the basis of raising $xxx’s.
10. Build a philanthropic culture that overlays your internal fundraising culture.
11. Make sure your board understands why people give and are able to relate that to why they personally give – to your and other causes.
12. Build a web of engagement opportunities that encourages each and every board member to be involved according to their individual skill sets and comfort levels.
…more to come on each of these in future installments of ….the fundraising beat…