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Mar 6, 2013

Insisting on a fundraising board can be a mistake

I recently ran across a post by Carol Weisman that complained about board members who won’t raise money.  She wrote, “Board membership and fundraising go hand in hand, but all too often, trustees don’t think that way.  Sometimes that’s because they joined when the criteria for board membership were either unclear or didn’t involve fundraising. But times have changed… Turning the board into a fundraising machine will be a long process but well worth it.”

I disagree, and strongly.  This notion that every board member is supposed to fundraise is unrealistic.  Many board members would rather shoot themselves than ask colleagues for money.  Why is this the top priority for a board member?
More often, it is an excuse for staff who are not doing fundraising very well.  I do agree that the expectations of a board member should be stated up front, but those expectations should vary according to the skills, interests, and willingness of each board member.  Yes, all board members should contribute – but that is so that the fundraisers can tell large donors that 100% of the board members make personal contributions.

To insist that all board members raise money only results in rejecting capable people that can bring valuable skills and contacts.  The greatest gaps I see in nonprofits are not in fundraising skill, it is in financial skills, marketing skills, contracting skills, logistics and transportation skills.  You will criticize a board member who brings those skills but who is not willing or able to solicit donations?  You are making a mistake!