Many trustees are not aware of the full extent of their fundraising responsibilities. Approving the budget is not only a fiscal decision but also a fundraising decision!
Ultimately, trustees are accountable for achieving your institution’s funding goals.
So, if you could write the perfect fundraising job description for the essential fundraising responsibilities of your trustees, what would you include?
Consider these seven key responsibilities:
Honestly, you don’t find prayer as a requirement in most trustee job descriptions. That’s unfortunate. We recruit potential trustees based on their business acumen, but we should prioritize their spiritual leadership.
Trustees wrestle with difficult decisions that set the course for your organization. It’s too easy for all of us to lean on our own understanding, but your ministry needs the Spirit’s wisdom. Prayer must be a central focus, not just an afterthought.
Warren Buffet requires each of his executives to invest in the company to have “skin in the game.” He believes a person makes better decisions if they have something at stake. One common excuse for not giving is “I give my time.” That’s great, but your college or university can’t balance the budget with a gift of time.
Trustees lead by example. They must give generously and encourage others to give. Others are motivated to give when trustees sacrificially give their time, talent, and treasure.
Successful fundraising is based on relationships. Your ministry needs an expanded circle of friends. trustees can open doors that others can’t. One trustee commented, “Every member of our board should constantly be in conversations with other people to find out where God is hiding money!”
Trustees can host small meet and greet events in their homes or other venues. Invite prospective donors on a tour of your ministry to see firsthand the lives of those who are being changed. Use the social proof principle to influence new donors.
If your ministry deserves a board member’s support, it deserves a donor’s support.
Trustees can identify, cultivate, and solicit donors for your ministry. Some may ask independently; others may involve staff. Although not everyone is comfortable asking, a board member asking is more effective than staff members asking because they can say, “Join me in supporting this great work.”
Some trustees limit their involvement to board meetings, but it should be so much more. One board member decided to introduce one person per month to the president. He opened doors and successfully brought new donors to the college. It didn’t just “happen”; it required a proactive effort to make connections.
A personal phone call from a trustee thanking a donor for their support is a very effective way to deepen donor relationships. Divide the top 100 donors among board members to make thank you calls. A spirit of gratitude will distinguish your ministry from others and bless your trustees and your donors.
Kevin’s Trustee Testimony
Kevin is a trustee of a Christian college who also serves as board chair of a Christian school. He believes fundraising is a key part of his board member responsibilities.
When you agree to serve as a board member, you are lending your credibility and professional reputation to that organization. A board member’s presence on a board should give other donors confidence the organization is worthy of their support.
Development directors are paid to ask people for money, but it makes a big difference when a volunteer asks. I’ve never really hesitated in asking someone for support. To me, it’s a privilege to talk with someone about a ministry I truly believe in.
It doesn’t work if you are pushy, demanding, and expecting. I don’t make cold asks. I just present the need and trust God to work in that person’s heart. You don’t want to be that guy who was afraid to ask for a gift for fear of offending someone and find out later the donor gave a big gift to another organization—because they had the courage to ask.
I enjoy meeting new people and developing new friendships. It’s fun to see someone else catch a passion for your ministry. Instead of harming my business relationships, I’ve found the exact opposite to be true. My involvement in fundraising has actually strengthened relationships, not weakened them.
These seven board responsibilities can be summarized with one word—passion.
Recruit individuals who love your organization’s mission and will wholeheartedly dedicate themselves to advancing it.