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Preparing Your Nonprofit Board for a Fundraising Campaign

One of the many ways that BoardAssist placements make an impact on the boards they join is by spearheading the fundraising campaign of the nonprofit boards they join.  Many folks who approach BoardAssist worry that all they will do on a nonprofit board is ask their friends for money – instead they want to be involved in using their management and strategy skills to some higher purpose.  What these folks miss is that helping fund the good work your nonprofit does is one of the most important roles that a board member can play.  And that running a fundraising campaign is all about strategy and management – not just working your rolodex.  Here to tell us more about how to excel if you are tapped to run your board’s fundraising campaign is guest blogger Angela White – who originally published this post on the terrific BoardSource website.  

Preparing Your Nonprofit Board for a Fundraising Campaign

The impact of a fundraising campaign on an organization’s board is significant. It’s a marathon, requiring a multi-year commitment of both focus and strength. It will be all encompassing and require full commitment from every member. But, just like any good marathon runner prepares for the race, there are exercises you can do now to have your board do very well in this effort.

I believe there are three key elements to make sure you’ve accomplished before you undertake a campaign.

Step 1: Do you have a PLAN in place?

  • Do board members have a clear picture of the mission, priorities, and funding needs of the organization?
  • Have your board and leadership developed strategic priorities for the next three to four years?
  • What are the critical things for your organization to get done?
  • Can and do board members articulate this focus to others, particularly potential donors?
  • Can board and staff clearly articulate what will be different as a result of the campaign?

Step 2: Do you have the right PEOPLE?

  • Do you have a solid leadership team and is it committed to be there throughout the campaign? Will the president/CEO and chief development officer be there?
  • Are board members committed to the organization’s mission and do they have strong links to the organization?
  • Do board members have a clear understanding of their role and expectations as fundraisers for the organization?
  • Are board members ready to demonstrate their commitment to fundraising on behalf of the organization by making their own gift?
  • Have at least some board members been actively cultivating top donor prospects?
  • Do you regularly share progress reports on fundraising with the board and discuss specific goals and objectives of the development program?

Step 3: Are you all agreed on the PRIORITIES?

  • Have the board and staff tested the proposed campaign plan with prospective donors? Do they think it is as important as you do? Has this been objectively tested?
  • Does your board know what its role will be in an upcoming campaign and know what it should be doing to support the campaign?
  • Has the board openly and authentically had discussions (more than one!) to review the campaign priorities and preparation?
  • Has staff presented a well-thought-out plan and timeline for undertaking the campaign?
  • Have you examined the resources needed to successfully implement a campaign and gotten the board’s support?
  • Does the board have an understanding of the organization’s actual gift capacity?

By taking the time to prepare your board for a campaign, you can improve your odds for success. You should also talk to others in the industry with experience successfully conducting campaigns of similar scope. There is no need to reinvent the wheel.


Angela E. White, CFRE, serves as senior consultant and CEO of Johnson, Grossnickle and Associates. She previously served as Executive Director for institutional advancement at the University of Indianapolis and vice president of institutional advancement at Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College. Angela is a faculty member at The Fundraising School at the IU Lilly Family School of Philanthropy, presents on behalf of the Women’s Philanthropy Institute, and serves on the Committee on Directorship for CFRE International.