Create a Menu of Choices for Board Members

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Simone Joyaux

Involving your board members in relationship building and fund development begins with the screening interview. You know, back when your organization interviews a candidate for board membership. Right then, organization leadership communicates performance expectations to the candidate. And the candidate agrees to the performance expectations prior to nomination—or you don’t nominate the candidate!

Here’s what I include about philanthropy and fund development in my standard performance expectations for all board members—no exceptions. No exceptions at all!

·         Help support the charitable contributions operation of the organization. Specifically:

o        Reach into diverse communities and help identify and cultivate relationships to support the organization as donors, volunteers, and advocates.

o        Give an annual financial contribution to the best of personal ability. Consider this organization one of your top 2 – 3 charitable commitments. If the organization launches a capital program, give to that, too. 

o        Participate in the fund development by taking on various tasks tailored to your comfort and skills.

In addition to these performance expectations, I also like offering a menu of opportunities at the start of each fiscal year. The menu of relationship building / fund development opportunities reflect the decisions made in the fund development plan.

Some of the menu items are expected of all board members. In fact, I include the bullets above—part of the board member performance expectations—in the annual menu.

Some additional menu items might be required of all board members. For example:

·         Make thank-you calls to donors.

·         Attend the agency’s major fundraising event and mingle and schmooze with guests.

·         At least once every two years host a cultivation gathering to introduce the agency to those who might be interested.

·         At least once per year, attend a cultivation gathering to nurture relationships with donors.

And then I list specific tasks that board members can choose from. For example, things like:

·         Serve on the Fund Development Committee.

·         Serve on the ad hoc task force planning the fundraising event.

·         Recruit sponsors for the fundraising event.

·         Participate in personal face-to-face solicitation with selected donors.

Development staff and key volunteers (maybe the chair of the Fund Development Committee) help board members complete the menu. I also like the idea of tabulating board member responses and creating a grid that lists all tasks and all board member assignments. Of course, everyone gets a copy of this grid. The Fund Development Committee and Board talk about progress, using the grid sometimes. I figure this helps with accountability.

Visit my website to find lots of resources—resources like: Job description of the Fund Development Committee; key roles in fund development; a handy handout about hosting cultivation gatherings; performance expectations of board members; and lots more. Click on Resources and then visit the Free Download Library.