Maximizing Nonprofit Board Engagement In Fundraising And Beyond
Leadership Published Date, 2024

Maximizing Nonprofit Board Engagement In Fundraising And Beyond

Created By: Regina Cialone, CFRE
January 30, 2024

Effective nonprofit boards play a crucial role in shaping an organization’s direction, strategy, and financial health. Board members are not only responsible for overseeing operations, but also serve as an organization’s ambassadors, partnership brokers, active opportunity creators, and networkers. They steward key relationships and evangelize the mission to spur impact. Additionally, they hold a fiduciary responsibility to understand an organization’s finances, build capital reserves, and establish and manage financial policies and procedures, including investment oversight.

I recently had the opportunity to present to HIA-LI’s Social Responsibility Committee on this pivotal topic, which is an essential element to nonprofit success, but one that many organizations struggle to manage. Between lack of engagement, hesitancy to open networks, diffusion of responsibility, and misalignment with staff, the viewpoint of nonprofit boards can tend to be ‘us vs. them’.  This mentality has to change, and that comes with an engaged, collaborative, and passionate board.

Engaging Your Board in The Fundraising Cycle

Comfortability with and commitment to fundraising is a key role of nonprofit boards. Engaged boards can leverage their impact by getting involved in the organization’s fundraising cycle, or cycle of prospect engagement. In this cycle, board members can play essential roles in identifying potential donors by tapping into their networks, qualifying a prospect’s viability with the organization’s best interest in mind, cultivating mutually beneficial relationships, making strategic solicitations, and facilitating stewardship activities. The active participation of board members in the fundraising cycle not only helps secure necessary funds but also demonstrates their commitment to the organization’s cause, which can inspire confidence and support from other donors and stakeholders. 

Engaging Your Board Beyond Fundraising

Beyond fundraising, there are numerous strategies that can be easily deployed to engage your board effectively. Providing personalized opportunities for engagement tailored to the strengths and/or interest areas of each member, involving them in donor-facing activities, and holding them accountable through engagement plans are several effective methods. Even in roles primarily focused on donor or prospect cultivation, nonprofit board members can contribute meaningfully without having to involve themselves in a direct ask. Here are examples of how board members can engage with donors or prospects in a non-fundraising capacity:

  • Host Donor Appreciation Events to express gratitude and build relationships with donors, fostering a sense of community and connection to the cause.
  • Share Success Stories and the impact of the organization’s programs with donors, illustrating the real-world change their support has facilitated.
  • Attend Community Meetings to represent the organization, serving as ambassadors and keeping the community informed about the organization’s initiatives.
  • Facilitate Connections by leveraging their networks to make introductions, connecting donors or prospects with other influential individuals who may share an interest in the organization’s mission.
  • Accompany Donors and Prospects on Site Visits and providing firsthand insights into the organization’s work and facilitating a deeper understanding of its impact.
  • Engage in Program Presentations, showcasing their knowledge and passion for the cause.
  • Participate in Donor Gatherings by attending and participating in events organized specifically for donors, fostering personal relationships and demonstrating their commitment to donor engagement.
  • Conduct Feedback Sessions with donors and prospects, seeking their input on organizational strategies, programs, and overall effectiveness.
  • Express Gratitude by personally thanking donors, either through individualized notes or phone calls, acknowledging their contributions and commitment to the organization.

These are just some of the many ways in which Board members can contribute, through fundraising and beyond, to their organization’s success. Nonprofits should understand that their boards are a powerful organizational resource and that by strategically engaging members in development and program work, they can significantly enhance their fundraising outcomes and make a lasting impact on their missions.

Great leaders are essential to every organization’s success. Learn how Orr Group can help you leverage, train, and transform your Board leadership to drive more effective philanthropic results.

Regina Cialone, CFRE is a Vice President at Orr Group. She brings 23 years of experience in nonprofit management, advising on campaign strategy and management, strategic planning, board development and recruitment, moves management, development operations, and special events.

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