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October 25, 2020
Nine Tips for Staying Sane about Fundraising and Your Board
By Terry Axelrod

Terry Axelrod
Terry Axelrod
One of the most important functions that nonprofit board members fulfill is ensuring the organization gets the financial resources it needs. While members (mostly) agree on the need for fundraising, they may differ about how best to do it.

The following may help frame the role of board members in fundraising.
  1. Let go of any written or unwritten rules you may have about the “right” way for board members to participate in fundraising.

  2. Above all, let go of the notion that all board members must ask others for money.

  3. Accept the 20-60-20 rule when it comes to fundraising and your board. That is, 20% of the board will enjoy being involved in fundraising, 60% will be neutral about it, and the remaining 20% will want nothing to do with it.

  4. Stop thinking that every other nonprofit organizations board members do more fundraising than your board members do. It’s irrelevant (and highly improbable).

  5. Recognize that your board members are volunteers who are giving you the gifts of their time and attention. In today’s world, those gifts are more precious than money. They are not paid staff, and, in most cases, do not wish to become paid staff.

  6. Know that your board members are looking to you to steer the fundraising process and to make requests of them as needed. Do not assume that anyone on your board wakes up each morning worrying about the fundraising needs of your organization.

  7. Treat each board member with the care and respect that you would give each major donor or potential major donor. If over time you consistently shower them with that level of personal attention and respect, they will naturally become significant donors.

  8. Thank your board members sincerely and promptly for every little thing they do. A quick email or voicemail thank-you tells them that what they did mattered to you. Whether they have served on your board for 10 months or 10 years, make certain they know you do not take them for granted.

  9. Meet with each board member individually once a year to be sure you understand what most interests them about your organization. Find out why they got involved on your board in the first place and what keeps them involved. When interacting with each board member, keep these interests and self-interests foremost in your mind. Let go of any expectations or illusions that these will ever change. Do your very best to fulfill these interests.
Terry Axelrod is the founder of Benevon, which trains and coaches organizations to engage individual donors in attaining sustainable funding. Contact her at or call 206-709-9400. — 2014 Benevon. All rights reserved.
August 2014
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