Your Board’s Role in Fundraising

Randy McCabe September 11, 2015 Nonprofits

A nonprofit research study funded by the Lilly Foundation a few years ago found that over 60% of respondents were “unhappy” with their Board’s role in fundraising, especially related to fundraising other than capital campaigns.

So, what’s the problem?

A big one is usually there is a lack of discussion and/or training related to fundraising during a new Board member recruiting and on-boarding process.

I know of one organization President who tells prospective Board members that he expects them to make his organization one of the prospect’s top three priorities in their charitable giving. Usually about one-third of the prospects decline to join the Board when this is proposed. Another third say they will think about it (and about half of them later decline) and the other third said they assume that Board membership goes hand-in-hand with active giving to the organization’s mission.

Don’t be hesitant to engage your Board in fundraising matters – if they defer on this responsibility, they are probably not right for a Board role. After all, the IRS charges the Board with ultimate responsibly for the Fiscal health and viability of a 501(c)3. Doesn’t this suggest that Boards should take the lead in giving… not necessarily by being the largest donors, but by being fully invested collectively?

About the Orange Leap Donor Lifecycle Blog: Tom McCabe helped to coin the term “relationship fundraising” in the 1970’s as he began applying relationship development principles across multiple channels of fundraising for nonprofit organizations. As a founding partner of fundraising agency KMA, over the last 40 years Tom helped to orchestrate the expansion of hundreds of critical causes worldwide. Now retired from KMA, Tom still chooses to spend his time serving worthy organizations, and can be reached at