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members: To be or not to be involved in fundraising?
Circa October 2007
Yes, that is
the question and the answer is a loud and resounding YES! Board
members must take an interest in the raising of money, resources
and awareness for their non-profit organisation.
With more than
twenty years in the non-profit sector, I now know what makes fundraising
successful, and it is not by seeking a quick fix or a Super-woman
or man of fundraising to wave a magic wand with the words: abracadabra
does not get the job done - it is hard work and as the old
adage goes, "many hands make light work".
On average I
train over 400 people a year in the (witch) craft of fundraising,
each attendee dedicated to raising resources for their organisation
speak in unison; "help, my board doesn't understand me".
A number of
myths surround the responsibility of who should do the fundraising.
Fundraisers are often under tremendous pressure to perform and meet
targets with little support or involvement from their leaders. In
most instances, the leadership is reluctant to become involved in
fundraising and displays a lack of understanding around the business
of this noble work. I have heard boardmembers say, "I don't
have time, I feel uncomfortable asking people for money. I didn't
sign-on to do fundraising," and some just do not believe it
to be their role. That is the greatest myth.
Let us review
the Board's main roles.
guardians of public interest, particularly for donors, beneficiaries
and other stakeholders. Guardians of the brand, and reputation.
planning (role shared with management) and formal approval and
adoption of the strategy.
monitor and if necessary remove the CEO. Approve his/her appointment
of management team, assisting as required.
for management and through them, the staff, to help them do their
jobs better and ensure the organisation succeeds.
the finances of the organisation, read and (having understood
them) approve the accounts.
are also required to ensure that their organisation is fully open
and accountable in providing a complete and detailed account of
what the organisation has done with the money it has raised.
of getting the board involved with fundraising is vital for long-term
sustainability as well as good governance, we need to consider and
act on the following:
- Why board
members may be reluctant to fundraise and how to overcome these
ways in which individual board members can participate in the
- And finding
ways to strengthening and building your fundraising team
So who is responsible
for implementing these actions? I would say the Chairperson along
with the CEO or national director and the person who does the fundraising.
Why should Board
members fundraise or establish a support team?
- To make
sure that their organisations will survive
- To ensure
that programmes are sustained until people's lives are changed
- To continually
grow the number of supporters and constituents
- To fulfil
their legal responsibilities towards financial commitments
they have to!
How can board
they must be prepared to 'ask'
- Know and
support the fundraising plan
- Commit and
'do' - use influence and affluence to open doors
- Mingle and
- Supply lists
of prospective donors and contacts
appointments with prospective donors and jointly attend meetings
with the fundraiser
- Make personal
phone calls as a follow-up
- Host social
gatherings for small groups of donors or prospective donors
- Add personal
notes to letters of appeal
awards to donors
- Make presentations
to companies about the organisation
- Help with
the development of fundraising marketing materials or assist with
the long-range budgets
- Hand write
thank you letters
- Agree to
sell tickets to events - make the effort and bring in friends
- Assist with
capturing success stories
- Ensure that
IT systems are 'intelligent' and manage the donor
- Or find
service providers; web designer, database systems, PR agencies
who will work pro-bono or at cost
We have an
estimated 30% annual turnover of 'fundraisers' and this
is mainly due to burn-out and unreasonably high expectations to
bring in the millions for organisations that have no real culture
of 'fundraising' or philanthropic seeking.
In some instances,
the Director or CEO is fundraising as well as managing operations
and personnel - to be successful they would need to dedicate
at least 70% of their time to raising funds, which is risky to the
overall wellbeing of programmes and management. Such demanding work
has to be done seriously and professionally and not with a 'by-the
way we expect you to do some fundraising' approach.
are tasked with raising their own salary, which is not only insulting
to a professional person but also risky - friendship raising
is the key to long tem success and it is very difficult to nurture
a relationship when you cannot pay your own rent or buy food for
is a competitive market for the donor Rand and there are new community-based
organisation opening their doors daily - according to Bev
Russell of Social Surveys it is creeping up and might be as high
as 160 000 comprising of universities, faith-based organisations,
unions, research agencies, non-government organisations, and grass-root
groups. Each structure has its own board of willing individuals
who believe in the cause and want to help but often they sign-on
without any form of orientation or briefing around their legal responsibilities
and obligations to fundraising.
A real wake-up
call for board members to consider is the threat of being used for
criminal or terrorist activities - money laundering. They
should be approving the fundraising strategy and approaches whilst
asking, "How are we raising our money, from whom and for what?"
of European Union report on Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing
Typologies 2003-2004 stated, "The case examples presented
during this year's typologies exercise appeared to show that
NPO's can be misused in a variety of ways and for different
purposes within the framework of terrorism financing. First of all,
NPO's can be used by terrorists and terrorist organisations
to raise funds, as was the case for many of the larger NPO's
that had their assets frozen on the basis of the UN Security Council
Resolution 1373 (2001) . . . . A number of the experts noted the
importance of informal cash collection in many ethnic or religious
communities and the difficulties in accurately monitoring those
funds . . . . NPO's can also be used by terrorists to move
funds . . . . Finally, NPO's can also be used to provide direct
logistical support to terrorists or serve as a cover for their operations."
with a strong fundraising culture, with leadership setting the pace
in resource development, are highly successful and are able to plan
the future knowing that they will be able to delivery on their Mission.
We have to find time to obsess about raising funds and looking at
the process seriously if we want to sustain our organisations.
* Written by
Ann Bown of Charisma Communications, a financial sustainability
consultant to the non-profit sector. Ann is the author of the book
How to Fast-Track Your Board in Fundraising.
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