Sadly, most people hate fundraising. Let’s face it, asking for money can be uncomfortable, embarrassing, and out of comfort zone of many. That’s why I’m not surprised that so many agencies have trouble getting their board to fundraise. Comprised usually of volunteers, it can be a challenge to get your board on board with fundraising. However, here are five tips to help you equip your board members as fundraisers:

  • Make Fundraising a Board Member’s Duty- Set the expectation from the beginning that one of their responsibilities as board member is to fundraise. This may be hard to do with your current board, but going forward, as you recruit new members, write in their list of duties that fundraising is expected. Outline a measureable plan (i.e. cultivate 5 major donors throughout the year or contact 10 corporate sponsors for the annual event). That way, they’ll know what is expected from them, and you can keep them clearly accountable.
  • Take the Yuck Out of Fundraising- Find out why they’re so resistant to fundraising. Did they have bad experiences? Do they have bad connotations? Then, evaluate fundraising from the other side. How do they feel when they give to their favorite charity (hopefully yours!)? Bring a favorite, loyal donor to a board meeting to share why they like giving.
  • Give Them the Right Tools- Board members frequently have zero experience or the wrong experience with fundraising. That can make the task daunting and intimidating. Most people resist fundraising because they are not adequately trained. Offer a class or retreat (either through your organization or contracting a consultant) to equip the board with skills they need to fundraise successfully. If they feel proficient, they’ll be more likely to want to fundraise (and be more effective as well).
  • Required Reading- There are some great fundraising books out there; make them required reading. You can incorporate them into the new board member training. I would suggest:
      1. Asking: A 59-Minute Guide to Everything Board Members, Volunteers, and Staff Must Know to Secure the Gift, By: Gerald Panas
      2. Seeing Through a Donor’s Eyes, By: Tom Ahern
      3. The Spirituality of Fundraising, By: Henri Nouwen
  • Alternatives to Fundraising- Tough love time. Sit down with your board and ask them, if they are unwilling to raise money for the mission, what services they’ll cut or what staff they’ll let go to maintain your agency. There are consequences for not fundraising. Give them the tough decisions.

Fundraising can be intimidating when positioned poorly. More often than not, I find that a board who is resistant to fundraising is because they feel ill-equipped. Stubbornness stems from fear. By having the training and tools of fundraising, you can get the board on board.


Looking for a fundraising sensei to train your board? Dickerson Bakker and Associates can provide the tools needed for your board to yield significant results. Contact us today to learn more.