In the board room with Walker and Grace: Part II

Last week we provided you with the first installment of blended observations about what makes an effective board in light of two recent Page to Practice™ book features.

This week, we continue with compiling advice from two expert authors, Julia Walker (A Fundraising Guide for Nonprofit Board Members) and Kay Sprinkel Grace (The Ultimate Board Member’s Book).

Fundraising with boards

Both acknowledge the longstanding difficulty in engaging board members in fundraising. For most members, like all people, asking for money does not come naturally, but the authors both stress the necessity for all board members to be integrally involved because of their shared fiduciary responsibilities.

Board members have too much valuable information and can preach the mission better than anyone. So, even if you only have a few who can make the actual ask, the others have a variety of ways to get involved.

Walker gives an extensive chart on these tasks, including cultivating prospects, leading efforts in stewardship, communicating, etc. Grace addresses Walker’s chart of tasks in three categories of involvement (3 A’s): ambassador, advocate and asker. Both authors agree the most effective way to train board members in fundraising is to pair them up with staff and experienced askers.

Two studies on donor motivation—the importance of boards

In Walker’s book, she references a study that found high-end donors’ motivations for giving lie in their feelings (making a difference and feeling financially secure) and the efficiency of the organization.

In Grace’s book, she references a study that found high-end donors must respect the organization’s leadership to donate.

If the studies reference leadership and efficiency, the board should epitomize both to donors. The board is the only entity within the organization that can ensure these qualities.

The message from both experts is explicit—the board is the leadership in the organization and as such, must be the body that adheres to the mission in every way financially. The authors challenge boards to a higher calling and a serious, comprehensive understanding of fiduciary responsibility. No small task, but one that can make or break your organization’s mission impact.

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