Friday, August 14, 2015

Governance toolbox: Reaching out - board participation in fundraising and advocacy

Why not open this week's toolbox with this tweet? The sentiment fits nonprofit leadership (including board leadership) perfectly. And, as someone with an out-of-control office supply fetish, the graphic caught my eye immediately. The Maxwell quote feels like an especially germane follow-up to the storytelling theme in Wednesday's post. It also addresses a critical element of effective nonprofit advocacy and fundraising. We reach others - and motivate others - through powerful stories and connection of our mission to their interests.

Get the most from your board! A checklist for greater member engagement -- Who says there's not a way for board members to participate in the fundraising process? It's tempting to equate that engagement with asking people for money. But the truth is, there are other ways for even the shyest member to participate. This quick checklist reminds us of that. I can easily see using this post as a starting point for a discussion about both how we can expand our collective definition of what it means to "participate in fundraising" and how each member can find steps along the way to be part of that process.

Advocacy: An essential board responsibility -- If you've done any reading in the nonprofit literature lately, you already know about the increased call to push boards to accept - and lead from - their advocacy responsibilities. Gene Takagi offers an excellent overview (with links) of a lead driver of that push, BoardSource's Stand for Your Mission campaign. 

I'm a 20-year-old student and this is why I'm not coming to your fundraiser -- Whether by necessity or by the interest of those who serve, many nonprofit boards find themselves planning or participating in organizational fundraisers. Whether or not you're actively courting 20-year-old students, the advice offered here can serve as a much-needed reality check about what motivates many of your potential supporters to participate. (I haven't seen "20-year-old college student" in the rear view mirror in decades, and I found myself saying "amen..." to every single item on the list.) 

7 threats to nonprofit fundraising sustainability -- We can have spirited conversations about whether fundraising is a governance responsibility (versus something that many boards do). But one thing around which I hope we can find easy consensus is the board's foundational role in ensuring the organization's financial stability. The "threats" described in this Third Sector Today post by Dan Quirk affect not only fundraising specifically but our broader financial health generally. Board members should be thinking and governing strategically, anticipating and addressing the threats (and others) that impact their stability. They also need to be tending to the fiduciary challenges that arise when these threats become real.

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