NPO fundraising
18 Mar
  • By Malcolm Boyd
  • Cause in

The fundraising and responsibility role of Governing Body in resource development

“Fundraising is the gentle art of teaching the joy of giving”. – Henry Rosso

It never ceases to amaze me when I hear governing body members say – “I’ll come onto your governing body, but don’t ask me to fund raise.”

My experience over the years has taught me that many governing body members are unsure of the difference between business development and fundraising. These are in fact  two different things.

In a previous post, I covered the roles and responsibilities of governing body members and mentioned that one of the key duties of a governing body member is to ensure the organisation has adequate funds for its plans and operations.

In understanding this context, we need to explore 5 critical areas:

  • Understanding the development process
  • Cultivating prospects
  • Articulating the case for support
  • Making the request
  • Maintaining donor relations


Understanding the development process

Development and fundraising are not synonymous: development is the process and fundraising is the result. Governing body members are essential to the development process as it applies to individual prospects; they are the link with the community. The entire governing body, not just the development committee, must be involved with the development process.

Governing body and staff must work as partners throughout the entire process. There must be 100% commitment by the governing body to support the organisation financially. Governing body members cannot ask until they themselves have given. This does not always mean financially, it may be that the governing body members have skills and expertise that they can make available to the organisation on a pro-bono basis.


“No one has ever become poor by giving”. – Anne Frank


Cultivating prospects

The entire governing body should be involved in the identification and cultivation of individual prospects. There is no substitute for the personal connection a governing body member provides to a potential donor. Cultivation is relationship building. It must be planned and consistent and be on a timeline leading to requesting funding. Without cultivation, the request for funds will probably be difficult and the results less effective than when the relationship has been established.


Articulating the case for support

To be effective in requesting funds, you must have a case for support and be able to share this easily with others. Your case is the summary of the reason the organisation exists, the needs you are meeting in the community, and why. Focus on your results, not your needs as an organisation. People invest in organisations that have a positive impact on their community. Different prospects will want to hear different parts of your case. Be sure to adapt your message appropriately to the interest of the prospect. Know your prospect, know your organisation, and convey the reasons why an investment in your organisation will give satisfaction to your prospect.


Making the request

Organise your campaign around key prospects that have been identified and cultivated. Strategy is critical in the requesting of funds.

A successful request has been described as the right person asking for the right amount at the right time.

Research your assignments carefully and wisely, and watch your timing. Some people will want to include their friends; others prefer to ask those they do not know well. Be sure to assign prospects with whom the prospect is going to feel comfortable.

Be sure to use inclusive language when asking for ‘gifts’ such as “join with us…” – “partner with us…”. There is no substitute for peer-to-peer fund requests. All governing body members should participate in the development process, even though some may never request funds directly.


Maintaining donor relations

Responsible stewardship is being used more frequently by informed social impact investors.

A new relationship begins when a gift is made. Donors like to know their gift has made an impact. Donors like to hear from an organisation between asks. Stewardship is very much like cultivation.

Stewardship is a key step to the development process – the one that ensures future gifts. This is core critical to stakeholder engagement. Understanding donor motivation (giving back, peer pressure, etc.) can guide your stewardship practices to fit the donor’s needs and preferences. Governing body members are key players in stewardship, and in all steps of the development process.


Way forward

This post was prepared with you in mind, the non-profit organisation that wants to improve their governing body’s engagement and its effectiveness in development and fundraising. As you implement the techniques and discuss its concepts, along with other information you have obtained, consider it all as the platform for building this essential governing body function.


Partner with us in being of service to these amazing organisations. Fund their governing body members to strengthen their governing body leadership journey, empower them to register and complete the ourGOVERNANCE © RSA e-learning programme, specifically designed for executives and governing body members of nonprofit organisations.


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Malcolm Boyd
Founder and Managing Partner of Third Sector Insights.

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