What’s the Board’s Role in Fundraising?

Posted on September 23, 2009 by  
Filed under Board/Staff Relationship · Tagged: ,

Studies show that many nonprofit boards and staffs are confused about their roles in fundraising.  Both think that the other needs to raise more money – and both are convinced that the other is the falling down on the job. 

Here is a summary of best practices that clarifies the fundraising roles for the board and the staff.

1. Name one staffperson (Executive Director or Development Director) who is responsible for ALL of the fundraising for the organization.

2. This fundraising staffperson is responsible for developing the Annual Fundraising Plan.  This plan is developed with the support of the board’s Fundraising Committee  – in cooperation with the staffperson in charge of the Annual Expense Budget and the board’s Finance Committee.

3. The Annual Fundraising Plan outlines a plan to raise 130% of the Annual Expense Budget.  (This is insurance so that even if one part of the fundraising plan doesn’t yield what you expect, you will still have raised enough money to execute your programs and projects. )

4. This Annual Fundraising Plan looks like an expense budget – but it details monthly cash income.  In the form of a chart, each month and the total are across the top and the Sources of Funds (Memberships, Sales, Individual Gifts, Major Gifts, Events, Corporate Sponsors, Grants, etc) are along the left side.  Estimate the amount of funds raised for each month for each Source of Funds – and total the amounts by Source of Funds and by month. Work on a cash flow basis – try to estimate when you will actually receive the cash – not when the pledge is made or the grant is awarded.  Don’t be discouraged if you can’t create an accurate Fundraising Plan the first year.  After a few years, you will become more accurate in your estimates.  

5. In the comments section of the Annual Fundraising Plan, include a summary of the responsibilities of the fundraising manager (ED or Development Mgr) for each of the Sources of Funds. 

6. Also, as part of the plan, state clearly the responsiblities of the Fundraising Committee, the Events Committee and those responsibilities you think need to be shared by all board members. This could include any or all of the following:  attending fundraisers, signing donor appeal letters, approaching corporate donors, planning or attending events, thanking donors (written, phone, or in person), etc.  For each event or activity, state clearly the fundraising goal and associated expense budget.

7. The development of the Annual Fundraising Plan must be done in conjunction with the Annual Expense Budget.  Both the staff and board committees must work together so that all plans are accurately represented in the numbers that are in these plans. 

8.  During the board meeting where next year’s Annual Expense Budget is reviewed and approved by the board, the staff and Fundraising Committee should present the Annual Fundraising Plan.  This, too, needs to be approved by the board. 

9.  Just as the Annual Expense Budget is reviewed by the board each month, the Annual Fundraising Plan (actual vs. plan) should be reviewed by the board.  Together the board and the staff  can make changes to the fundraising plans or adjust spending if necessary.

For more information that will help your organization improve its fundraising, sign up for the BoardsThatExcel.com eNewsletter today and receive the free article: “22 Ways to Engage Your Board in Better Fundraising.