By Janine Vanderburg, Joining Vision and Action

“How do I talk with our board members about fundraising?”

In my over three decades of working for community and social change, one of the most frequent issues I hear about is motivating nonprofit board members to fundraise.

The Giving USA 2017 report, which came out this week, provides terrific motivation for gearing up your efforts with individual donors. The summary is terrific to share with your board. Here are two key facts:

  • Charitable giving exceeded $390 billion in 2016, an increase of 2.7% from 2015
  • 72% of that came from individuals

Sharing this with your board members may be a powerful way of showing them how instrumental they can be in raising funds for your organization. It starts with creating a culture of philanthropy, in which everyone in the organization views raising funds as part of their responsibilities.

Over the years, we’ve found that it’s helpful to start building this kind of culture by having the board chair and the executive director meet individually with existing board members to gauge their interests and ongoing commitment to serving on the board and participating in fundraising.

Here are some questions to guide those conversations, which we suggest take place in person, maybe over coffee, after a board retreat that has been focused on organizational change.

  • Which of our accomplishments are you most proud of?
  • Tell me how you’re feeling about some of the new directions we’re taking.
  • We talked a lot in this retreat about aligning all of our efforts toward this particular outcome [NAME OUTCOME]. I’d like to hear more about why this outcome is important to you.
  • How do you see yourself being personally involved in helping us to achieve this outcome?
  • In what parts of our work are you most interested in becoming involved?
  • How would you like to use your strengths to help with raising funds to help us achieve this new vision?

Taking a strengths-based approach, individualized to each board member, will pay over the long run. So, grab your calendar and start dialing to schedule “having your talk.”