Tip #19: Get Trustees Involved

Kindly provided by Kerri Tilby-Price from Exult (helping non-profits grow).

While every organisation will define roles and responsibilities differently, everyone in your organisation should be involved in fundraising to some degree and your trustees are no exception.

Internationally, particularly in the United States, it is taken for granted that Board members will either GIVE, GET or GO. That is, they will either make a donation themselves, use their networks and relationships to find new donors, or they will resign from the Board. Playing an active role in the financial health of their organisation is non-negotiable.

However, in New Zealand the opposite is usually true. Many Board members believe it is unnecessary for them to GIVE or GET, because they are working in a voluntary capacity. The most common argument is that they are already making a contribution by donating their time. Dig a little deeper and you’ll also hear reasoning that it’s ‘not their role’ or ‘they don’t know how’ to fundraise.

What most trustees don’t realise is that having Board members lead by example is critical to your fundraising success. Not all trustees have to fundraise in the same way, but it is essential that they all GIVE or GET somehow. Here’s why:

Others follow their example
In a nutshell, your Board owns your organisation. They are responsible for the organisation’s success and need to lead by example. How can your trustees expect you to ask complete strangers for donations, if they are not willing to financially contribute themselves? The public perceives your Board members as being the people most passionate about your cause. If these passionate people are not willing to give, why should anybody else?

Time is NOT money
There is no dispute that time is valuable and your trustees should be acknowledged and appreciated for the time they give to your organisation. However, time is NOT money. You cannot pay your bills, purchase necessary items and grow your organisation on time alone. You need donations as well.

Comparing time and money is like comparing protein and carbohydrates. Both are very different, but both are necessary to maintain your health. In this instance, it’s your organisation’s financial health at stake – something your board is responsible for maintaining.

Fundraising is about relationships
Fundraising is all about relationships. In simple maths, the more relationships you have, the more money you raise. Your trustees all have connections, networks and relationships within the community. Imagine that each of those connections represent a room that may or may not have money inside. You could barge in, ring the bell and hope someone’s home, or your trustee could unlock the door by way of an introduction.

As guardians of your organisation, your trustees are responsible for unlocking as many doors as possible. Not only will this give you access to more people and potentially more funds, it does so in a way that increases your credibility.

Click here for the next great tip on raising more funds or here for all available tips.