Survey Reveals Board Members Score Low in Fundraising

If you feel let down by the fundraising efforts of your board of directors, you’re not alone. According to recently released study results, a significant number of chief executives say that, while board members are good at giving money from their own pockets, too many are wallflowers when it comes to asking for donations.

The Nonprofit Governance Index, conducted every two to three years by BoardSource, identifies trends in board policies, practices and composition. Of the more than 1,300 chief executives and BoardSource members who responded in 2012, nearly three-quarters said that the rate of personal board giving at their nonprofits is high, at 90% to 100%.

But while expectations for board members’ fundraising involvement have risen in recent years, only 41% of the chief executives “agreed” or “strongly agreed” that board members are comfortable asking for money directly. And 40% of the respondents indicated that their board “has been reluctant to actively participate in fundraising and relies mostly on the CEO and staff.”

The chief executives ranked fundraising as the weakest area on a “board report card” and cited it as the area of board responsibility most in need of improvement.

What can you do to get board members to actively fundraise? According to the study, it’s not a matter of outlining their responsibilities — three-quarters of the respondents “agreed” or “strongly agreed” that “expectations related to fundraising are clearly explained during recruitment.” Perhaps chief executives can do a better job encouraging board members to raise funds and providing on-point training on how to make “the ask” after they join the organization.