Anyone involved in nonprofit management knows that the board of directors plays a very important role. They are responsible for the governance oversight of the organization but they also hold the ultimate fiscal responsibility as well. For any nonprofit executive or staff member who has wrestled with a board of directors who are less-than-functional, it is reasonable to ask the board what exactly they are willing and able to do to help with fundraising. The board may be unwilling, unable, or simply ignorant as to how to help raise the necessary funds.
It is not uncommon for staff to have an expectation of board members and for the board to have an expectation of staff'”it is also not uncommon for those expectations to contradict each other! Staff may have reasonable expectations that the board members will help raise money but the board may be expecting staff to take care of all the fundraising. It is important to get the expectations out in the open and identify where the challenges are.
Board members may support fundraising in theory, but they may not know what they can do to help or they may feel uncomfortable with asking people for money. It is important that staff knows and understands the board’s limitations so that they can adjust'”either by recruiting board members who WILL help raise money or by making adjustments on the staff side of things to accommodate.
Is the board willing to come to fundraising events? Ask others for money if the prospects are identified for them? Help with writing grant proposals? Host house parties and invite friends to ask for money? In order to determine what board members will do for fundraising efforts, it is necessary to ask and nudge them.
It is important for executive staff to identify what the board of directors will and won’t do to help with fundraising so that reasonable work plans, goals and expectations can be established. Additionally, it may be necessary to make some changes at the board level if board members cannot or will not help raise money.