The Profiled Board and Fundraising
Vol. 16 No. 10
It's often unclear to Trustees, particularly those members new to the Board, what their fundraising duties comprise. ISM often hears comments like the following.
- What is the role of the Board in giving and raising money?
- We know what the overall role of the Board is, but our Trustees don’t recognize their own responsibilities.
- When I joined the Board, it wasn’t made clear to me that I would have to make a gift, much less that I would have to ask others for money.
- When I became a Trustee, I told them I couldn’t make a gift and I wasn’t comfortable asking for money.
- I give time and, therefore, shouldn’t be expected to give money.
How do you prevent such miscommunication or lack of understanding on your Board?
A properly profiled Board is one step toward communicating philanthropic responsibilities. Your school’s planning documents—the strategic plan and strategic financial plan—drive Board profiling. The strategic financial plan provides the fiscal resources to fulfill the strategic plan. Your Trustees also provide financial support through their giving.
Your Committee on Trustees should make these responsibilities clear during recruitment and during orientation of new Board members. Ongoing professional development of Trustees, and the attendance of the Development Director at Board meetings and related committee meetings, can help in these efforts as well.
A Board that robustly embraces its philanthropic responsibilities empowers your school to realize its goals and dreams. Board philanthropy is fueled by how well each Trustee knows and can define your school’s institutional purposes in ways that are simultaneously visionary and practical. However, that is not enough.
An enthusiastic Board member who has a clear picture of your school’s students and faculty, mission, priorities, and funding needs will assume the following duties.
- The Trustee contributes to the fullest measure within his or her means to annual, capital, and endowment campaigns, and the major gifts program.
- The Trustee sets the standard of giving for others with his or her own contribution.
- The Trustee is involved in identifying, cultivating, soliciting, recognizing, and stewarding major gift prospects and donors. Examples of effective involvement include:
- identifying individuals to bring them closer to your school;
- cultivating and stewarding a portfolio of donors. Good examples include updating donors on what is happening at the school, reminding them that their gift made a difference, and inviting them to those programs and activities matching their values and interests;
- introducing donors to other solicitation team members during visits;
- writing follow-up and acknowledgment letters; and
- hosting small gatherings.
- The Trustee serves in leadership roles, which may include becoming a:
- Chair of the Annual Fund Cabinet or a Chair of one of its divisions (Leadership, Parents, Alumni, Faculty, or Staff);
- Chair or member of the Development Committee; or
- Chair or member of the Major Gifts Committee.
- The Trustee serves on solicitation teams either as solicitor, educator, or cultivator.
- The Trustee offers testimony, including:
- being featured in your school’s annual report or magazine; and
- hosting parlor meetings or dinner dialogues.
- The Trustee identifies potential Board candidates.
The success of any campaign is proportionate to the Board’s commitment. The Committee on Trustees should make these financial responsibilities clear during the recruitment process and Trustee education. A Board that embraces its philanthropic responsibilities empowers its school to realize its goals. The Board sets the pace.
Determine how to deliver this important message so that fulfilling these responsibilities becomes an ingrained and integral part of the Board’s culture. Donors and prospects look to the Board for leadership when considering their own gifts. The philanthropic commitment of your Board helps create the culture of philanthropy in your school and leads fundraising efforts for your internal and external constituencies.
Additional ISM resources:
The Source for Trustees Vol. 12 No. 4 Four Critical Ways the Board Supports the Annual Fund
The Source for Trustees Vol. 12 No. 10 Profiling Your Board for Wealth
The Source for Advancement Vol. 11 No. 3 Getting Your Board on Board for Development
Additional ISM resources for Gold members:
I&P Vol. 42 No. 2 The Board Profile as a Strategic Document
I&P Vol. 29 No. 12 Board Profiling: A Structured Approach
I&P Vol. 40 No. 15 The Board of Trustees’ Role in Your Annual Fund