June 15, 2017

Training Boards for Fundraising

Your board members are your chief ambassadors. They’ve made a commitment to ensuring the  Using best practices, I work with staff and board leadership to pinpoint the needs of the board. The ultimate goal of any such training is to create a functioning culture of fundraising among board members, including:

  1. Taking responsibility for funds development
  2. Having the hard and soft skills necessary to engage in fundraising
  3. Understanding of best practices in supporting staff to achieve fundraising goals
  4. Ongoing commitment to finding and implementing the fundraising activities most appropriate for each member.

Goals are determined ahead of time and each session of training is focused on the specific skills you need them to develop. Some areas of training include:

  • Identifying corporate partners
  • Using Fundraising Events
  • Building Individual Giving
  • Working with Major Donors
  • Building Institutional and Foundation Support

For individual giving, for example, we focus on identifying, cultivating, and soliciting donors. I have learned to be proscriptive but also identify the ways in which each board member makes fundraising their own. The theory is that if they are not fully comfortable and excited, they will not consistently engage in fundraising.

Most often, the keys to increasing board fundraising are:

  1. Demystifying the process
  2. Building confidence in the actual moment of solicitation
  3. Each board member leaving with a specific set of talking points that they are well versed in, instead of a traditional elevator pitch.

Preparing to Train the Board of Directors in Fundraising

Before we enter the board room, I will meet with the Director of Development and Executive Director to understand the larger fundraising efforts into which the board’s work figures, the “pain points” as relates to board members, and the priorities for the board’s professional development. A separate meeting with the board chair or fundraising chair will determine the goals from their perspective.

It is important that the board be receptive to the training. You need them to remain committed, beyond the training, to active participation in fundraising and continued growth. To achieve that, we work with the board leadership to prepare the board and proactively plan for any concerns.

Training the Board of Directors to be Great Fundraisers

The training itself will focus on the most necessary component, but my trainings almost always provide context by reviewing the entire fundraising cycle.

Depending on cues from the staff and board leadership, I use a combination of presentation, discussion, and exercises. We will need to tailor the training to the time allotted, but will ensure the board leave with the confidence that the staff will be able to continue supporting their growth as fundraisers. Indeed, building confidence in staff is always a goal of mine.

Following Up After the Training

Following up with the board to encourage engagement is important because, in my experience, board members experience enthusiasm during the training but when they leave their regular lives and previous barriers come to the fore again. Follow up, the exact nature of which depends on the focus of the training, helps to alleviate the fall off.