Motivate Your Board to Fundraise!

July 19, 2017


This guest post is by Derry Deringer of Deringer Consulting, LLC, presenter of Win at Engaging Your Board Members in Fund Development, part of the STRONGER ORGANIZATIONS, STRONGER NETWORKS track. Learn more about the conference and register here:

If you are a board member or executive director struggling to move the needle on board engagement in fundraising, you aren’t alone. This is easily the most common challenge I see for nonprofit leadership.

Here’s the rub: orchestrating a program that has your board members consistently giving and getting takes planning, takes coordination and, most of all, takes patience. Here’s the pay off – it’s absolutely worth it

Going well beyond dollars received, the long-term benefits deliver a leadership team that knows what it means to build a culture of philanthropy. If I could put my finger on a single factor to separate the winners and losers over the next few decades, it would be leadership who understand and lead a culture of philanthropy within their organizations. How an organization handles board member giving and getting is a very important first step to building that culture.

At Maryland Nonprofits’ 2017 Annual Conference, I’m doing a session on board giving and getting. Here are some finer points to consider:

Include these best practices in your board GIVING work to put yourself on a path to success:

  1. Start treating each board member like a VIP major gift donor regardless of their giving history.
  2. Arrange giving parameters on the donor’s terms by asking each member to give at the level of their top two charities rather than a minimum gift amount.
  3. Plan, cultivate, and ask for gifts framed around an overall board team goal. This will generate the maximum energy and impact for board giving and make their giving about something bigger than themselves as individuals.

BONUS TIP: If there’s a single thing to get right with board giving, it’s this: Assure that each board member gives a cash gift every single year. I don’t care if it is $1, just insist on 100% cash giving from the board each and every year.

Include these best practices in your board GETTING work to put yourself on the right course:

  1. Put everything on the table about the possibilities and options around board getting and facilitate a discussion to gain group consensus.
  2. Provide a menu and allow each board member to pick a set of activities that works best for them.
  3. Help each member get easy wins first and build on that. The key to success in board getting is building trust and motivation. The best way to do that is helping members be successful.

BONUS TIP: If there’s a single thing to get right with board getting, it’s this: involve your board members in making thank you calls. Arranging for board members to thank donors gets the member small, easy wins. This builds trust and motivation – two key ingredients to strong board getting.

Do you want to learn more about how to engage your board in fund development? Attend my interactive session, “Win at Engaging your Board Members in Fund Development” at Maryland Nonprofits’ 2017 Conference on October 4th in Baltimore. I will walk you through best practices, tools, and sample plans to get you on your way to success in board giving and getting. 

About the Author

Derry Deringer – Principal, Deringer Consulting, LLC  Derry Deringer is a Certified Fundraising Executive (CFRE) and principal at Deringer Consulting, LLC. Derry draws from twenty years of experience with nonprofit, business and international organizations, and employs proven techniques in fundraising, management, performance coaching and facilitation to help clients perform at their best.   Deringer Consulting helps small to medium sized nonprofits to improve their fundraising and development performance. Most client projects focus in one of these three areas: 1. Development team/department assessment, planning and implementation support; 2. Creating/improving a program related to large gifts (major gifts, companies, foundations); and 3. Leadership coaching to fundraising for Executive Director, Development Director and Board of Directors.  Previously, Derry served as director of corporate and foundation relations and director of major gifts for World Food Program USA (WFP USA), a Washington DC-based nonprofit that supports the UN World Food Program (WFP) and other humanitarian assistance and hunger relief organizations. Derry is married and has two children. He lives in Alexandria, Virginia.