Transform Your Board Into a Fundraising Force

Transform Your Board Into a Fundraising Force

Kay Sprinkel Grace

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Transform Your Board Into a Fundraising Force
The Essentials You Need to Know

by Kay Sprinkel Grace, 115 pp

Place a checkmark by the single most frustrating problem for nonprofit organizations:

__Overlong meetings

__Cramped quarters

__Deli platters

__Boards that won’t raise money

Granted, you may say “all of the above,” but the most frustrating problem has to be boards that won’t participate in fundraising, except to sell raffle tickets or bricks.

As someone who has worked with boards of all sizes for thirty years, Kay Sprinkel Grace has heard every fundraising excuse. Nevertheless, she is convinced you CAN transform your board into a fundraising force.

But certainly not by admonishing anyone.

Instead, when board members insist they’ll do anything but ask for money, your job is to identify and support what they will do.

Will they master the basic elevator speech and share it widely? Will they share their list of friends? Will they bring people to events? Will they accompany the CEO on a foundation visit? Will they participate in thank-you calling or gratitude committees to connect with donors?

In other words, if you are to increase your board’s fundraising prowess, you have to ensure your organization is accommodating to individual styles, and accepting of the contributions board members are willing to make.

As you do so, board members will engage more fully and their confidence and PQ – Passion Quotient – will begin to grow. And, according to Grace, passion is everything when it comes to board fundraising.

By the time you turn the last page of her book, you’ll be convinced that your board can be transformed by following the field-tested blueprint Grace sketches in her upbeat, step by step guide.

About the Author

Kay Sprinkel Grace is passionate about philanthropy and has devoted the last thirty years to the nonprofit sector, providing seminal thought, habit-breaking strategies, challenges to board and staff, and a new vocabulary of fundraising. Kay is a recipient of the Henry A. Rosso Medal for lifetime achievement in ethical fundraising from the Lilly Family School of Philanthropy at Indiana University, and in 2016 was in the first group of professionals to be named Distinguished Fellows by the Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP).

This is her seventh book on a variety of topics related to leadership and fundraising, including The Ultimate Board Member’s Book and The Busy Volunteer’s Guide to Fundraising, both published by Emerson & Church.

Table of Contents


Author’s Preface

Part One: Creating a Fundraising Force


1            Presenting the Role of Board Member

2            Finding Board Members

3            Helping Board Experience the Mission

4            Engaging Board Members in the Vision

5            Keeping Your Board Inspired

6            Board Members as Partners, Not Observers

7            If What You Raise Is Just a Tiny Part of Your Budget


8            Where to Start with Fundraising

9            Building Relationships with Donors

10          Getting to the Ask

11          The Benefits of Board Involvement in Fundraising


12          When Board Members Say, "I'll Do Anything but Ask for Money"

13          The Role of the CEO or Executive Director

14          If a Board Member Won’t Get and Won’t Give

15          Preventing Fundraising Burnout

16          Philanthropy Is Changing

17          A Fundraising Force

Part Two: Using AAA to Engage Your Board

18          What to Ask Every Prospective Board Member

19          Creating Ambassadors Among Your Board

20          Helping Board Members Become Advocates

21          Working Productively with Askers

22          AAA Boards in a Nutshell

23          Sample Survey for Board Members

24          Developing a Board of Champions



This article is excerpted from Kay Sprinkel Grace's book, Transform Your Board Into a Fundraising Force, ©Emerson & Church, Publishers. To obtain reprint permission, please call 508-359-0019 or email us.

When Board Members Say, "I'll Do Anything but Ask for Money"

In Paris, when you’re on a nonprofit board, you don’t discuss fundraising. I learned this the hard way.

I was on assignment in France for a library. When I began calling board members to introduce myself and ask how they’d like to be involved with a modest campaign to renovate the building, I grew discouraged by their lack of enthusiasm and reluctance to help.

Nonetheless, I kept calling and finally, nearing the end of my roster, connected with a woman who said that yes, she would help—with one caveat: “I’ll do anything but ask for money.” Hiding my disappointment, I said, “That’s fine. How do you see yourself helping?” Her response turned out to be the key to our success: “I have great lists I can share with you.”

She was an American who had lived in Paris for more than a quarter century and was active in various Franco-American organizations. Her relationships with individuals in these causes were dear to her, and through the years she had kept in touch with them.

As those of us in charge of fundraising began to talk with “her” people, it was evident they valued her continuing outreach and responded enthusiastically to our appeal. Still, the woman herself never once asked for money, yet she was responsible for a third of the total we raised!

This was a major epiphany for me. The ways in which board members support fundraising, I realized, will vary and can’t be held up to a rigid metric. We need to accommodate all levels of motivation, skill, and confidence.

At the conclusion of the campaign, when I invited this board member to lunch to thank her for the many gifts pledged by her friends, she reiterated, somewhat sheepishly, that she couldn’t ask for money. I told her that didn’t matter. Those who were comfortable asking had used her relationship-building skills as a platform to appeal for gifts. She was surprised and grateful and said she would just keep on with what she was doing.

Don’t be discouraged when board members say they “will do anything” but ask for money. Instead, find out what they will do. Will they master the basic elevator speech and share it widely? Will they bring people to events? Will they accompany the CEO on a foundation visit? Will they participate in thank-you calling or gratitude committees to connect with donors? Determine what roles they’re comfortable playing, whether it’s connector, cultivator, or closer.

If you are to transform your board into a fundraising force, you have to do more than tend to the myriad responsibilities of fundraising. You also have to ensure your organizational environment is accommodating to individual styles and abilities and accepting of the contributions they are willing to make.