Tag Archives: board involvement

How board members can increase funding without asking for money


One of the biggest fears shared by charitable board members is the fear of asking for money. For most charities, raising funds through board members is a duty and, quite frankly, an obligation. But, when push comes to shove, few board members enjoy tapping their friends, co-workers, and fellow community leaders for financial support. Serving on several boards and directly working with many more, I can readily sense board members who dislike soliciting donations.

But why does there need to be such a fear about raising funds?

Board members are typically recruited to non-profit organizations because of their professional or community influence and affluence. They bring significant experience, knowledge, and connections…the ingredients necessary to represent, govern and generate support for the organizations they serve.

When asked about the sources of resistance, the responses I repeatedly receive include the fear of being asked to return the favor to support a different organization; or fear in receiving a negative response; or, fear of potentially impairing a relationship with a co-worker, client, or vendor. These are tough situations for a board member and, quite honestly, future board members.

Here’s my advice to board members who are hesitant or concerned about asking others for charitable donations.

Work with the charity’s staff leadership, specifically the executive and/or development director, to identify prospective donors with whom you have connections. These can be individuals, businesses, and foundations.

Take it a step further by helping them craft a solicitation strategy for each prospect. While each prospective donor may require a different approach, an appropriate amount of cultivation will advance the relationship-building process between the charity and the potential donor.

One very simple, yet effective action you can take is scheduling an initial meeting between the organization (represented by a lead staff or board member) and the prospect.

Creating the opportunity for the organization to identify and cultivate potential “investors” is what non-profit organizations would love to see from their board leaders. It’s quite possible that by taking these simple, yet effective, steps may influence the raising of more money than anticipated!


Young leaders ready for community boards

By Pete Parker

It’s time to prepare our Generation X & Y counterparts for community leadership.

I’ve read recent blogs addressing young leadership and their roles or, lack thereof, on non-profit boards. In Emily Heard’s “Why Don’t More Members of Gens X and Y Join Boards”, she reminds us that only 2% of board members were aged 30 or younger according to Board Source’s Nonprofit Governance Index 2007 study. Various reasons for the lack of young board leadership were listed, most predominantly (in my opinion) was “skepticism about the need to have various generations on boards”.

I’m a Gen Xer who has served on no less than 10 boards over the past five years. Despite my relative lack of board experience, I can share that boards can certainly use an infusion of fresh leadership. Though the “freshness” does not necessarily need to relate to age, there are certainly advantages of recruiting young leaders, including:

  • Fresh perspectives
  • Ease in orienting, training and mentoring
  • Enthusiasm to serve on committees
  • Knowledge of the ever-advancing technology
  • Ability to network through social media channels
  • Connection to young future leaders

 They also possess the characteristic of caring. I have seen many board members (perhaps myself included) lose the interest and passion they once held for certain causes and organizations, yet remain on boards. New leaders, particularly young activists, can pick up the load once carried by active board members and move it and the organization forward.

I found the following statement in Rosetta Thurman’s blog, “Do Nonprofit Boards Really Want Younger Members” particularly insightful…“The “under 30” focus is really important to note because that age bracket encompasses all of Generation Y, the largest generational demographic behind the Baby Boomers at 80 million strong. Which means that there are a lot of young people out there who can be recruited for board service.”

It reminded me of the Meyer Foundation’s Ready to Lead report in 2008, which stated that “the nonprofit sector will undergo large-scale executive turnover in the near term and that it is uncertain if we have a workforce that is willing, prepared, and—not least of all—enthusiastically ready to assume leadership positions.” There are far more baby boomers than Gen Xers and Yers, potentially leaving a significant leadership void within our communities.

It is time to address the future strength, vision and impact of our community organizations. Thankfully, organizations such as the Points of Light Institute, HandsOn Network and local volunteer centers are in place and addressing community leadership on a daily basis.

Here in Northern Nevada, a solid group of leaders has chosen to propel the young leadership continuum forward. For the past two years, the Reno-Tahoe Young Professionals Network has focused its efforts on introducing young professionals to community and civic organizations. In fact, it launched a donor-funded campaign to educate and engage young leaders with organizations seeking key volunteers and board members. In its brief year of existence, The Pebble Project has linked 324 young professionals with 61 local community organizations.

The same organization has voted to start a board matching program, aimed at educating board members-to-be on all aspects of board leadership…and connecting each participant with a community organization.

These two projects are sure to ignite a spark of philanthropy in the Reno/Sparks area, creating a legacy of leadership for years to come.

I encourage organizational leaders (board and staff) to assess their leadership structures and personnel and seriously consider filling voids and creating opportunities for young leadership. We are eager to lead (especially if there’s direction), excited to serve and passionate about our communities. Plus, just imagine the skills we can learn and hone…then apply in our respective workplaces.

The future is here, the future is now.


Pete Parker is a consultant striving to enhance the level of philanthropy in communities.

Charities can succeed during tough economic times

Originally posted on 12/8/08 at http://parkerdevelopment.wordpress.com/2008/12/08/charities-can-…economic-times/.



Charities can succeed during tough economic times


We find ourselves in the middle of very interesting and uncertain economic times. As with many businesses, the sluggish economy is showing its effects on the non-profit sector. Americans donated $306.4-billion in 2007, but fund raising is encountering challenges, especially as the auto, housing and financial-services industries continue to crumble, food costs rise, and the stock market’s volatility strains individuals and businesses.


Charitable organizations are beginning to report figures that are short of goals, many of which are due to delayed, reduced or discontinued contributions. Donors are keeping closer eyes on their financial portfolios and less about charitable giving.


Non-profit organizations are responding in different ways. A fair number are playing the “safe” card and maintaining a status-quo approach until the swells taper. Others are cutting staff, beginning with fundraising and marketing officers. Unfortunately, these organizations fail to see the opportunity that lies beneath the layer of uncertainty.


Despite these economic uncertainties non-profit leaders may want to consider taking closer looks at their organizations and acting proactively. The answers to organizational success may be closer than they think. Here are a few suggestions to inspire thought and action to steer organizations in the right direction.


Reach out to leadership. It’s vital that organizations be led by strong leaders. This person or group of people will guide charitable organizations through a clear plan, which includes enhancing the board, integrating comprehensive marketing and fundraising strategies and focusing on funding opportunities.


Enhance the level of board involvement. Make it a point to share information and invite increased participation from the organization’s board of directions. The board should become more of a resource and help increase giving and create opportunities.


Continue managing annual and major giving campaigns. The important thing is to keep on task and continue managing major gift cultivation and fundraising. When the recession ends, these organizations will be further ahead of the curve than most others.


Build strong relationships with donors. Whether they’re past or current donors, take some time to truly cultivate their financial and voluntary participation. These people will be ready to step to the plate when they’re financially ready. Don’t lose sight on regularly seeking new supporters.


Plan for donors to be savvy about giving and the use of their funds. Accountability will be the watchword and the use and impact of donations will be regularly reviewed. Many will be more strategic with their giving, thus guiding them to create structured giving plans and develop relationships with targeted organizations.


Communicate regularly. Keep constituents informed of the organization’s health, programs and needs. Use both traditional and the growing social media avenues to share news, invite participation, and challenge the interest and involvement of constituents.


By making the right choices, such as reinforcing core values and mission, personally connecting with contributors and leveraging new opportunities, success can be achieved. Simply “playing it safe” could easily create more harm, thus distancing organizations further away from their missions. Moving forward, organizational leaders may want to consider the following questions…and more:

  • Are there ways to improve operations?
  • What is the state of our finances, including investments?
  • Which programs/activities truly connect to your mission?
  • How are these programs/activities managed and assessed?
  • Are we managing our most important relationships?
  • Are we involving our board members and using them appropriately?


How often do we connect with our funders?  


We can do it! Organizational leaders have an opportunity to publicly show the strength of the non-profit community. Making a difference in our communities is an incredible profession. Whether we’re leading organizations, raising funds or managing programs, serving our community is incredibly meaningful experience. Though times are scary, our obligation is to maintain positive frames of mind and show our strengths. This requires tapping into the basics of non-profit management, working harder and building relationships.