Nonprofit Networking: How to Leverage Your Board for Fundraising Success

By Katrina Woodcox, Senior Consultant

Convincing your board to fundraise year after year, especially if it has not been a part of your organization’s culture, can be daunting. Yet, playing a role in fundraising is a necessary function of a board to ensure the long-term sustainability and future growth of an organization. While not every board member may be comfortable making a direct ask, board members can support your fundraising efforts by leveraging their personal and professional networks. Engaged board members can be one of your organization’s greatest fundraising resources–especially when they are well-prepared and equipped with the right tools.

When serving as the Executive Director of Butte Humane Society in Chico, California, we launched a capital campaign to build a new animal shelter and veterinary hospital. One month after embarking on the quiet phase of our campaign, the most destructive and deadliest wildfire in California’s history ravaged our neighboring community of Paradise, California. Within a few hours, the Camp Fire leveled 13,000 homes and decimated the community. Faced with rebuilding an entire town, the idea of fundraising for dogs and cats seemed like a lesser priority; yet, demand for our services surged as our community also grappled with the thousands of animals that were now homeless and in need of services, care, and shelter. Once our community recovered enough to inch forward, we pivoted and relaunched our campaign. 

Our board campaign committee was now even more crucial to driving campaign momentum. As we sought to reinvigorate our fundraising efforts, I met with each committee member individually to discuss the campaign’s goals and solicit their involvement. These meetings were helpful in both generating enthusiasm and evaluating each board member’s unique fundraising comfort zone: Were they extroverted and comfortable making a direct ask, or did they prefer to assist by facilitating a prospect introduction? 

Board members were assigned a portfolio of donor prospects from their respective networks to either ask for a gift or to make an introduction. We prepared board members to become advocates for the campaign by conducting board trainings and rehearsing solicitation scenarios in both 1:1 and in group settings where I encouraged our board members to reframe their thinking about fundraising. Instead of directly asking friends and colleagues for a donation right out of the gate, I suggested that board members add meaning to their conversations by focusing on the personal impact that the organization had on their lives and how the new facility was going to save more animals and reduce overpopulation – tangible outcomes that resonate with donors and supporters. Passion and results are powerful tools for inspiring action.

  • Consultant Tip: Use donor data strategies to keep a record of how board members and prospects are connected to each other.

In my experience working with board members on solicitation strategies, they often feel that asking for money is invasive, uncomfortable, and may even put a strain on a friendship. However, it is important to remind them that fundraising is not about “begging” or “arm twisting,” and often begins with “friendraising.” Having that mindset can help to alleviate some of the concern board members may have when talking to friends and colleagues about potential gifts. Board members’ motivations are born out of a passion they have for the organization, and if they can bring an authentic and transparent attitude to the conversation, it can help to inspire others to give out of that genuine connection and belief in the mission. 

The Camp Fire, while devastating, brought our board campaign committee together and provided an opportunity for honest conversations and realignment. It also ignited an urgency to think creatively, to step out of comfort zones, and to engage with our broader community on an immediate level. Our board-led solicitations and introductions ultimately resulted in many of our campaign’s largest commitments. By leveraging the networks of our board members, opening doors, and introducing people to a cause we were all so passionate about, we were able to raise the funds to build a new facility when our community needed it the most.

Whether you are actively conducting a capital campaign or planning a strategy for an annual giving appeal (or everything in between!), continuous board networking is necessary to strengthen your organization’s relationship with your community and to cultivate future sources of support. Engaging your board will pay off in the long-term, even if natural disasters and other obstacles alter your carefully laid fundraising plans. 

To learn more about leveraging your board for fundraising success, contact CFA today.


Katrina Woodcox, Senior Consultant

Katrina Woodcox comes to CFA with over 20 years of experience in nonprofit management, development, and community engagement. Before joining CFA, Katrina served as the Executive Director for Butte Humane Society (BHS), where she focused on creating annual campaigns, major gifts and planned giving programs, as well as fostering donor-centered, stewardship-rich development programs to help grow and sustain donor giving. Prior to BHS, Katrina was the Executive Director for the Downtown Chico Business Association. Katrina has also served as an independent consultant, working with a variety of nonprofit agencies throughout northern California to identify and achieve development and marketing goals. 

As a Senior Consultant with CFA, Katrina focuses on providing Development Assessments, Campaign Feasibility Studies, Campaign Counsel and Strategic Planning. Katrina uses her past non-profit management experience, capital campaign knowledge, development acumen and her passion for storytelling to help find the right solutions for CFA’s partners.

Katrina currently resides in Chico, California, and holds a BA in Journalism/Public Relations from the California State University, Chico

In Conversation with CFA: Inside Today’s Donor Mindset

Liz Jellema, Chief Operating Officer, led a conversation with guests Rachel Hutchisson, Chair of the Communications Task Force at The Generosity Commission, and Rick Dunham, Founder of Dunham+Company and member of The Giving Institute. The philanthropy experts discussed recent fundraising trends, and what the findings mean for nonprofit organizations trying to raise more money and positively impact their communities.

Takeaways to Address Today’s Fundraising Trends

  1. Mind the Millennials.

    Giving by the Millennial age cohort (individuals who are between 27 and 42 years old in 2023) is on the rise, and their attitude about nonprofit organizations is positive. This finding comes from the most recent annual Giving by Generation study, conducted by Dunham+Company and published by Giving USA in 2023. The survey found that Millennial households gave 40% more, on average, to nonprofits in 2022 than they did in 2016. Another encouraging fundraising trend was the increase in the share of donors who believe that nonprofits are “doing a good job,” seen especially in the Millennial cohort who reported an 8% increase in confidence in nonprofits.

    At the same time, findings from a 2023 study of donors contributing at least $20 in online giving per year revealed that 62% of surveyed donors plan to reduce their 2023 giving from the previous year, citing economic uncertainty and the toll of inflation on their personal finances. When asked how to marry these two findings, Dunham stated, “It portends probably a slower growth rate of Millennial giving, but I’m still encouraged to see how Millennials have really jumped in more significantly as donors.” 

    The key takeaway about the Millennial mindset is that they are proving to be tomorrow’s dedicated donors. Understand how and how much Millennials are giving at your organization so that you can set a long range strategy for this group and tailor communications and appeals for best results.
  2. Monitor fundraising trends but focus on your own donor data management.

    A recent podcast by The Economist, “Give fast, spry young: the new philanthropists,” and a related article, “How a tide of tech money is transforming charity,” explored the idea that every generation has remade philanthropy, and how an up-and-coming cohort of young, wealthy tech entrepreneurs want to “move fast and fix things” by donating to moonshot ideas with expediency and without condition. 

    The webinar panelists agreed that while tech entrepreneurs represent an interesting segment of donors, they represent a relatively small percentage of the national donor pool. It is important to understand the interests of your current donors and use data insights to discover opportunities to connect prospective donors to your mission.

    Data helps reveal patterns that are happening over time so we can better understand donor behavior, including what motivates donors, and what methods of giving they prefer (such as being able to donate easily on a mobile device). This information helps you determine where to focus your fundraising resources. Nonprofits of all sizes must activate data management to understand what is happening with their own donors and take actions such as upgrading technology so that people can give via digital channels.

    Hutchisson explained that these studies help us “look at what’s happening overall, but just because it’s happening overall doesn’t mean it’s happening right in your microcosm. You also have to look at your own data. Look at who’s giving, how they’re giving, the different characteristics, and that just helps you understand the behaviors of your best donors, and behaviors of people who aren’t giving, and sets a little bit of direction for where to look and maybe how to invest.”
  3. Tell donors how their giving directly impacts your mission through storytelling.

    Donors want to see results, and they also want to help other people. In a 2020 Hidden Brain podcast called Happiness 2.0: Surprising Sources of Joy, Dr. Elizabeth Dunn of the University of British Columbia shared her finding that people feel a greater joy of giving when they know more about how their dollars are used. Jellema noted, “It seems fairly straightforward and intuitive, but people want to know that they’re making a positive impact and altering the course of life…If you can really hone in on your specific mission and what are you uniquely resourced to address, that will set you apart.”

    Hutchisson agreed and said, “We might care about data and plans and vision, but we also want to feel and see that we’re making a difference. We want to belong.” Instead of focusing on the transactional relationship of philanthropy or becoming too internally focused about what the organization is doing, appeal to your donors’ emotional connection with your mission through impact stories. Fundraisers will get better results when they use storytelling to reach various donor mindsets and illustrate outcomes related to giving. 
  4. Meet donors where they are with multichannel fundraising and communications. 

    Donors who engage in multiple channels—from direct mail to social media—give more often and are likely to give again. While organizations must embrace different communications channels, the core message needs to remain consistent, compelling, and – Dunham used the term “symbiotic” – or mutually reinforcing, across all channels. Blackbaud’s 2021 study about online fundraising trends found that donors become confused and frustrated when they receive a communication through one channel (such as direct mail) and then find a different message on the website. Leverage technology to determine which donors are responding to which appeals, and employ straightforward communication to donors via direct mail, text-to-give, and more. Nonprofits must invest in the infrastructure, staff, and training to effectively use these tools and make it easy for people to give.

Learn More

If you missed CFA’s webinar “Inside Today’s Donor Mindset,” click to view a recording:


For more, in-depth articles related to these topics, check out CFA’s Insights page. CFA can help your organization design and implement fundraising campaigns to engage a wider, deeper donor audience, communicate your “big idea,” evaluate your data, and ready your organization for transformational gifts. Contact CFA today for strategic fundraising counsel.

Developing Leadership Annual Giving to Drive Fundraising Success

By Rob Ruchotzke, Senior Consultant

What is Leadership Annual Giving?

Leadership annual giving is a fundraising term used to describe a nonprofit’s largest repeating philanthropic gifts. Leadership annual gifts, also referred to as mid-level gifts, represent a higher dollar segment than that of baseline annual donors. Depending on the size of your organization, leadership annual gifts typically fall in the $500-$10,000 range. 

When conducting annual giving campaigns, nonprofit development professionals often focus on securing first-time gifts from the base of the donor pyramid or renewing major gifts from the top of the donor pyramid; however, gifts at the the middle of the donor pyramid are just as important. By strategically cultivating and stewarding mid-level donors for leadership annual gifts, you can increase their engagement and position your organization to ask for larger major gifts.  

  • Of note: According to the December 2022 AFP Fundraising Effectiveness quarterly report, annual gifts between $500-$5,000 are generated from 14% of donors and make up over 16% of total dollars raised, while gifts of $5,000+ are generated from a much smaller pool of 2.6% of donors but make up 74% of total dollars raised. 

Leadership Annual Giving Tactics to Raise More Money

The following are my go-to recommendations for clients looking to increase their leadership annual giving:

1. Strategize and cultivate leadership annual giving donors through regular follow-ups utilizing a donor cultivation cycle to manage the donor journey. Assign staff members who have relationship-building skills to your top donors and prospects to personally engage with them and cultivate future gifts. 

2. Monitor leadership annual giving by consistently collecting and analyzing donor data. Tracking giving patterns can help determine the appropriate time to solicit for larger major gifts within your donor moves management system.

3. Launch a giving society for your organization with named giving tiers, such as: Sustainer ($500-$999 per year), Influencer ($1,000-$2,499 per year), Investor ($2,500-$4,999 per year), Founder ($5,000+ per year). Providing meaningful benefits and recognition opportunities can motivate your donors to keep giving and to move up to the next level.

  • Consultant Tip: Host invitation-only events for the giving society to acknowledge leadership annual donors as well as public events where they can invite friends who have the potential to be future donors.

4. Conduct a comprehensive development assessment to analyze your current fundraising efficiencies, and/or a campaign feasibility study if your organization is considering a capital, endowment, or capacity building campaign. Both of these processes can reveal insights about the overall health of your organization’s fundraising practices and opportunities for improvements.

5. Align your frontline fundraising team by setting internal goals and reporting fundraising progress. Set a reasonable number of prospects for each of your gift officers’ portfolios, depending on the scope of the gift officer’s role, the size of your organization, and the goal of your campaign. Set a dollar goal for each gift officer to reach and celebrate wins along the way. 

6. Make donating to your organization as easy and seamless as possible by leveraging a variety of fundraising channels, including mobile giving, mailed forms, and online giving pages connected to your donor database. Keep messaging specific and consistent across various fundraising platforms to clearly convey the ask. 

7. Communicate with your donors to convey the impact of their gifts: once a donor contributes a leadership annual gift, they must be promptly thanked and informed of what has been made possible through their contribution. Connect via phone or video calls, thank-you letters, social media, and in-person meetings. Once a donor has made a leadership annual gift, consistent and regular donor communication is one of the best ways your organization can retain donors and increase future gifts.

Leveraging leadership annual giving is crucial for cultivating a robust pipeline of stable and increasing philanthropic support. Contact Creative Fundraising Advisors today to discuss how we can partner with you to achieve your goals.


Rob Ruchotzke

Rob Ruchotzke, Senior Consultant

Rob Ruchotzke focuses on annual giving strategy, development assessments, campaign feasibility studies, and campaign counsel. Rob comes to CFA with nearly a decade of annual giving experience in higher education institutions. Most recently, Rob served as the director of annual giving at the University of Northern Iowa (UNI), where he led multichannel campaigns, developed crowdfunding platforms, managed annual giving vendors, and served as the strategy lead for UNI’s Day of Giving (#LivePurpleGiveGold). A native of Camanche, Iowa, Rob holds a BA in Public Relations from the UNI and resides in Cedar Falls, Iowa.

Email Rob

Fundraising Volunteer Engagement: Setting Up Your Capital Campaign Committee for Success

By Joanne Curry, Principal & Head of Client Success

Capital and endowment campaigns are special, multi-year fundraising efforts tied to a visionary goal which present a special opportunity to engage your organization’s fundraising volunteers. By serving on your campaign committee, fundraising volunteers can share their affinity to your mission by influencing new contributions and garnering increased gifts. Campaigns and endowment campaigns can be a win-win for organizations and volunteers when participants are equipped to collaborate in the launch, progression, and completion of the campaign goal. 

At the same time, development officers and philanthropists may struggle with sustaining motivation and enthusiasm in fundraising volunteers over the course of multi-year campaigns. Here are some suggestions to help your fundraising volunteers enjoy the campaign experience while helping reach the campaign goal:

Seven tips to set your volunteer fundraising committee up for success

1. Recruit with intention. The people on your campaign committee must work well together, be able to influence the campaign outcome, and represent diversity in as many forms as possible. Start by recruiting the campaign chair(s) and focus on your most invested and well-connected donors to join your campaign committee. Take time to meet with each person individually to share the campaign goals and a description of their roles and responsibilities

2. Provide clarity. Even the most experienced fundraising volunteers want to work toward a shared vision and align on a plan of how to achieve it. When people volunteer, they need specific tasks and clear expectations. Review your campaign plan at the first committee meeting. If you are conducting a multi-year campaign, ensure that the plan and timeline is discussed on an annual basis with all of your volunteer committee members. 

Volunteers also need to understand the “why” behind the tasks you assign. For example, if you ask a volunteer to call on a colleague for a large gift, explain how the gift will help reach the campaign vision, how you came up with the solicitation amount, and why you think they are the best volunteer to help make the ask. If donor cultivation is the aim, ask one of your volunteers to set up a meeting with the prospect and explain how that will help to move the relationship forward.

  • Consultant Tip: It is important to actively manage and update your donor data. Use the data you collect to keep your campaign volunteers focused on viable prospects. 

3. Practice and prepare for fundraising. Volunteers may not be comfortable asking for money or cultivating donors. Demystify this task by providing fundraising training for your committee members early in the campaign. Equip your volunteers with the tools to succeed by sharing your case for support and a link to your campaign video (if applicable) and walking through these resources together in advance. To prepare a volunteer for conducting an ask meeting without a development staff partner, I recommend providing them with a personalized cover letter that details the amount of the financial request. However, in most cases, I counsel clients to have a staff member present to ensure all relevant details are conveyed.

  • Consultant Tip: At campaign committee meetings, add a storytelling exercise to the agenda. I always enjoy hearing the personal stories of committee members about how they became involved in the organization or why the organization’s mission is meaningful to them. Discuss how sharing these personal experiences with campaign prospects could be fruitful.

4. Keep it simple. If you have a committee of 20 volunteers, avoid giving each member 20 tasks. Don’t expect volunteers to cull through long lists of prospects who may or may not be aligned with your mission and vision. Instead, aim for quality prospects over quantity of asks. I have found that assigning each volunteer one or two prospects at a time is ideal. Keeping people focused on a small number of set targets can help make fundraising volunteers feel accomplished.

  • Consultant Tip: The best tactic for assigning roles is to identify a task that you can’t accomplish without volunteer help, or a task that is better accomplished by a volunteer. For example, if a volunteer knows the prospect because they serve on a board together, the meeting request is more likely to get a response when the volunteer, as opposed to the CEO or someone else on the staff, asks.

5. Track and meet in person. The purpose of committee meetings is to convene and share progress so that volunteers can hear from–and brainstorm with–each other. The peer accountability that occurs during in-person meetings can motivate and inspire action from your volunteers, while also allowing you to record what each committee member promises to do for the campaign. At CFA, we recommend using moves management to record interactions and plan next steps with campaign prospects. 

  • Consultant Tip: Cultivating major gifts is a long-term effort. Convene your campaign committee every other month to give volunteers ample time to demonstrate progress. 

6. Hold volunteers accountable. Knowing when a volunteer expects to accomplish a task is essential to reaching campaign goals on schedule. This can be the toughest part of volunteer engagement! Establish a timeline as part of your campaign plan. Staff members and/or campaign chairs can follow up with volunteers individually between meetings. If it is obvious that a campaign volunteer is not likely to complete their tasks, work with campaign leadership to rethink the strategy for that volunteer’s assignments. 

7. Keep volunteers motivated. Thank volunteers as often as you can and keep them informed of campaign progress. Celebrate wins along the way and recognize how a volunteer’s action translated into a contribution or a positive move for a future gift. 

Capital and endowment campaigns can be a transformative time in the life of your organization when they are executed well and when your volunteer fundraisers feel ownership and success in reaching goals alongside development professionals and other staff leaders. Contact CFA today to find out how we can set you and your fundraising volunteers up for campaign success. 


Joanne Curry, Vice President of Client Success

Joanne Curry is CFA’s Vice President of Client Success focusing on campaign management, prospect development, and membership and annual giving programs. Joanne came to CFA with over 10 years of nonprofit experience in operations management, development, and accounting. Before joining CFA, Joanne served as Head of Revenue and Interim Head of Development at the McNay Art Museum in San Antonio, Texas, managed fundraising operations and communications with Missouri Contemporary Ballet and Owen/Cox Dance Group and worked with nonprofits as a Certified QuickBooks ProAdvisor Accountant with Support Kansas City. A native of Port Jefferson, New York, Joanne holds a BFA in Ballet Performance and Teaching from the University of Utah. 

Fundraising Moves Management: Inspiring Philanthropy One Donor at a Time

By Anne Spears, Campaign Manager

Development professionals must build personal relationships with people who give to their nonprofit so the donor feels connected to both the mission and the people who carry it out.  Donors rarely give to organizations unless they align with its philanthropic vision or have relationships with board members, staff, or other supporters. Whether they realize it or not, donors move organically through a series of stages as they become more deeply involved with an organization. Development staffers can shepherd and track this progression through a process called “moves management.” 

As fundraisers, we must be comfortable cultivating donors and asking for money regularly if we are going to conduct successful campaigns. Moves management is a tracking tool that allows us to inspire donors to give in a way that is most meaningful to them. 

Why use donor moves management?

Moves management is a system of operations that development staff and nonprofit leaders use to strategically elevate personal engagement with donors. Moves management can be used in annual funds, major gifts, and capital and endowment campaigns. 

When I worked at a small private school in College Station, Texas, I learned why donor engagement has to be personal. It was 2012, and we didn’t have a nonprofit donor database or system for tracking donors, so we set out to create one from scratch. The head of the school and I referenced attendance rosters dating back to 1962 and began reaching out to alumni. During the process, we transferred donor information and touchpoints from a spreadsheet to an electronic database and created a centralized, streamlined system by which we could track engagement of prospective donors. We scheduled meetings and hosted tours of the school. The head of the school did a beautiful job of reengaging former families by getting to know them and learning why they loved the school. Alums were overjoyed to be back on campus and felt reconnected to their school. This fresh engagement, which began with the head of the school’s personal invitations, ultimately deepened alum involvement and the completion of a successful capital campaign.

How to implement a donor moves management system

Effective moves management involves examining donor data, tracking donor engagement, and working with staff and volunteers to plan and implement campaign activities ranging from hosting events to asking for campaign gifts.

When CFA is working with a client in campaign mode, we meet to review every lead donor’s giving history, event attendance, volunteer participation, capacity to give, and more. From there, we can gauge the donor’s engagement with the organization, determine where they fall within moves management, and look for opportunities to bring them closer to contributing. We strategize on every activity, assign tasks to staff and volunteers, and set deadlines. For example, the first step with a prospective campaign donor may be for the executive director to ask them to meet. With each successive “move,” we work side by side with our clients to determine the best next step. Many of our clients report that we keep them accountable because they know we will follow up with them on their progress. 

How to track moves

Tracking moves management can be accomplished with a donor database software or a basic spreadsheet. At CFA, we offer a proprietary campaign moves management dashboard customized for each client based on the organization’s goals. Many organizations are not fully utilizing their database software for moves management, so we also provide donor data strategies and training solutions to maximize clients’ existing tools and resources and help them implement a sustainable moves management system for the long run.

Sample plan

Regardless of your system, it’s important to determine and track several key items: Who is the donor prospect manager? Who is the assigned solicitor who holds the relationship with the prospective donor? How much have they given? Do they volunteer or attend events? How much are the ask amounts? What is the next step? Managing relationships, timing engagements, and tracking deadlines is vital to keeping solicitors on task and donors engaged.

  • Consultant Tip: How you collect, maintain, and track donor engagement informs how you determine where a donor or prospect falls along the moves management path. Tracking engagement is also a way to uncover trends that inform the next best steps to reach your goals. Learn more about tracking donor engagement using data analytics.

Key steps in donor moves management

As a campaign manager, I see my role as the conductor who keeps the train moving forward on the tracks. Moves management is how I know which train is going where and when. Here are the five basic steps I follow:

1. Determine the “why.” Why are you acquiring more donors or seeking to increase the number or dollar amount of gifts? Your answer could be that you are growing the annual fund or raising capital for a new building.

2. Learn more about donors and prospects. Examine your data to determine each prospective donor’s motivation and capacity. If you are planning a campaign, consider conducting a wealth screening of your database.

3. Segment and strategize. Utilize the knowledge from examining your data, combined with the “why” of your campaign, to segment your prospective donors into groups and set goals for each group and each donor or prospect. Goals might be to encourage a segment to become recurring donors, to increase their annual donation, or to consider making a planned gift.  

4. Engage donors and prospects. This is where the assigned solicitor personally engages prospective donors by following their inclinations and the campaign strategy. Our job at CFA is to guide our clients and help them set a strategy to cultivate and solicit personal relationships with leading prospects and donors. If you’ve done your job with cultivation, you’ll know the right time to make the ask and the right people to have in the room. 

5. Track progress and next steps. It is crucial to input gifts in your donor database for historical record keeping and tax purposes, but it is equally important to track moves management and identify which strategies worked for which donor. There is always a next step. Check out CFA’s donor cultivation cycle to learn more.  

Final thoughts

The goal in philanthropy is to help people engage meaningfully with organizations that address the issues they care most about. Every campaign is unique, and every donor has individual interests and levels of dedication to the mission. We can each inspire philanthropy when we give special attention to these nuances and build personal relationships with our donors.  

Contact CFA to see how moves management and donor engagement can improve your fundraising efforts


Anne Spears

Anne Spears, Campaign Manager

An experienced fundraiser with over a decade of experience in education, religious, and social service nonprofit fundraising, Anne is energized and inspired by working side by side with our nonprofit partners as a project manager for fundraising campaigns.

Most recently Anne was the Director of Development at the Episcopal Diocese of West Texas where she oversaw a multitude of fundraising initiatives including capital campaigns for Diocesan camp facilities and 87 Diocesan churches. Previously Anne was the Chief Development Officer for Ascension DePaul Services of San Antonio and the Development Coordinator at St. Thomas Early Learning Center in College Station, Texas. She also worked for the State of Montana as a social services specialist serving indigenous and rural populations.

Anne has a B.S. in Sociology, a M.S. in Family and Child Studies, and a Master of Public Administration. She also is a Certified Fundraising Executive (CFRE). Anne lives in San Antonio, Texas with her husband and three children.

Email Anne

Nonprofit Board Training for Fundraising

Serving on a nonprofit board is an honor and can be a rewarding way for people to give back to their communities. Board members have a shared responsibility to ensure the organization is financially stable and maximizes impact. By the same token, nonprofit leaders who provide ongoing board training can equip members with the knowledge and confidence to govern more effectively, participate in fundraising and donor stewardship, and guide the organization to advance its mission. 

Empowering your nonprofit board to fundraise

What kind of skills could you help board members develop to benefit your nonprofit? Increased willingness to ask friends and associates for financial support? More relationship building with prospective and existing donors? Additional fund raising know-how? Strengthening your board and development committee is about empowering them to help your organization be successful, which includes asking fellow community members to support your organization’s mission financially. 

Fundraising training to facilitate board engagement

Even the most seasoned board development committee volunteers can benefit from a refresher in the art of asking for money and  inspiration from your organization’s leadership. Fundraising training on the shared campaign vision, goals, and fundraising tactics ensures everyone is aligned and confident about where the organization is going. Training can also bring together members with varying solicitation experience to discuss best practices. 

The most effective board training content for fundraising

Preparation for a tailored board training is a crucial step. Your facilitator must understand the specific challenges your board perceives about fundraising in advance, what additional support the staff hopes to get from the board, and if your board is aligned on the vision and goals of the campaign you are pursuing.

According to the Ebbinghaus “forgetting curve,” people forget half of what they learn within an hour and 70% of what they learn within a day. An effective board training includes instruction, practice, debriefing, team building, and following up with board members after the training to ask what they learned. The extra step of following up helps board members recall information and also shows them that you are invested in their continued involvement.

Fundraising training is most impactful for board members if they learn fundraising principles and skills, engage in practicing as a group, and debrief in open conversation with one another, your staff, and the facilitator.  Whether you choose to bring in a professional for two hours or two days, it’s important that the training is custom to your organization and your people.

Training for the ask

Many board members are accustomed to selling tickets to events and soliciting small donations, but may be intimidated by capital or endowment campaign scenarios when the ask is for a significant pledge or estate planning gift. Asking for money is not easy for everyone. Remind your board that it is a positive sign if they feel nervous; it shows they care enough about the mission and their community to make the ask. 

Good fundraising facilitators engage a board with conversation on everything from the rationale for conducting a silent phase during a capital campaign to understanding a donor cultivation cycle. Practicing asking for money can help board members overcome emotional reservations and learn how to have difficult conversations. Team building can be especially effective when you have had staff turnover or are preparing for a new significant campaign. Lastly, including specific content in the training presentation such as the campaign’s fundraising case statement allows the overall experience to be more realistic.

When the time is right for board training

When board members or campaign leaders ask for money without proper training, the organization risks doing both the board member and the prospective donor a disservice by potentially hindering the relationship with the prospect. Board training for fundraising can give your board volunteers the confidence and know-how to maximize fundraising and donor stewardship for your organization. 

Reach out to CFA today to help your organization facilitate a board fundraising training.