Volunteers are the lifeblood of a development operation, and trustees are the most important volunteers of all. The trustees approve an organization’s budget and they must accept personal responsibility for raising called-for contributed income. They are expected to set the pace in giving, recruiting other volunteers, and soliciting major donors.
Too often I have been engaged as a consultant only to have the executive director of the organization or chair of the board of trustees tell me, “Our board doesn’t raise money. You’ll have to look elsewhere for fund-raising leadership.” That’s when I tell them they have to change the makeup of the board. A board must include individuals capable of leading a major fund-raising campaign. There is no greater strength in a fund-raising campaign than a board ready and willing to lead. There is no greater weakness than one which sees fund-raising as someone else's responsibility.
Leadership is the key element in determining the goal or deciding whether you should even conduct a fund-raising campaign. Be it this year’s edition of the annual fund campaign, a first-time attempt to raise endowment, or a first-ever fund-raising effort, leadership is what will make or break your campaign.
At its best, a truly responsible and effective board will produce a volunteer development organization along these lines:
BOARD OF TRUSTEES → DEVELOPMENT COMMITTEE → FUND-RAISING CAMPAIGN LEADERSHIP (Annual, Endowment, Capital, Sponsorship & Underwriting, Governmental) → SOLICITORS
The board chair sets the tone for the organization and its volunteers. Other trustees look to the chair for leadership, and the chair has primary responsibility for volunteer leadership commitment. However, a development director may have an even more meaningful relationship, on a day-to-day basis, with the chair of the board’s committee for development, in that they collaborate on the planning and execution of all the organization’s fund-raising campaigns.
To learn if FundRaiser is a good fit for your organization, explore which program might be right for the size of your nonprofit.