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Developing A Culture Of Fundraising And Philanthropy On Your Board

Developing A Culture Of Fundraising And Philanthropy On Your Board

June 15, 2016
Dave Fulscher

In the nonprofit business, we hear it over and over—“our board is not committed to fundraising.” Unfortunately, many nonprofit executives complain about this dilemma and have no idea how to solve it. Luckily, the steps to developing a culture of fundraising and philanthropy are very simple and can be accomplished over a period of time. If an executive inherits a board that is not committed to the philanthropic mission of the organization, all is not lost. You usually can’t kick start a great fundraising culture immediately, but you can lay the groundwork and continually work toward the goal. The keys to making your board’s annual fundraising efforts more successful are listed below:

Recruitment: Start recruiting with the correct wording in the board job description. Be sure to emphasize that the board member will be required to participate in the annual campaign of the organization as a donor and solicitor. Asking others for donations can be a daunting concept for some, so you need to assure the recruit that you will provide a simple coaching orientation about how to solicit funds. Additional responsibilities of the board member should also be emphasized, but it’s essential to ensure that the board member fully understands and accepts the fundraising role in the recruitment process.

Education: Make it a habit to provide education at board meetings and in monthly communications about how the charitable mission of the organization is being met because of the generous donations from the community. Success stories about how other organizations similar to yours and how they have been effective in fundraising are also helpful. Providing professional fundraising coaching and training for the board is also vital.

Involvement: The leadership for your annual campaign or events should come from board members. Board members should be continually updated throughout the year about the effectiveness of your fundraising efforts. Strong fundraising for a nonprofit is a year-round process. Asking the board to approve the fundraising plan and evaluate its effectiveness will also stimulate more buy-in.

Recognition: Provide recognition and praise on a regular basis to board members exhibiting outstanding leadership in fundraising. This can be done at every board meeting, communications to the board and in your organization’s social media and newsletters.

As with all successful ventures, it is best to develop a detailed plan with benchmark dates for each component. The plan will help to ensure your organization is promoting a strong culture of fundraising for your board leadership to follow. Good luck!


Dave Fulscher

In his more than 36 years in fundraising, Dave has overseen more than 20 successful annual and capital campaigns, raising millions of dollars for YMCAs in Ohio, Texas and Florida. Dave has a wealth of experience in endowment campaigns, membership development, project management, facility operations, board recruitment and public relations. His work with volunteers to elevate the mission of the YMCA earned him the prestigious 2005 North American YMCA Development Organization Eagle Award for fundraising excellence.