Posts Tagged ‘Julia Walker’

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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In the board room with Walker and Grace

Since we’ve been talking about effective boards so much recently, I thought it would be helpful to compile some advice from two of our Page to Practice™ expert authors on boards. They complement each other well, reinforcing the main points and going deeper in different areas. With two lifetimes of experience, Julia Ingraham Walker in A Fundraising Guide for Nonprofit Board Members and Kay Sprinkel Grace in The Ultimate Board Member’s Book give it to us straight.

Primary function

Walker insists the board members are leaders and role models who carry the mission forward through communication, giving, fundraising, advocating.

Grace calls board members “keepers of the mission,” like Walker. She emphasizes board members should not be managing daily operations, but ensure all resources are used effectively. She also asserts, “Development, or relationship building, is the most important role for a board member…If all board members were committed to developing relationships, fundraising would not be a challenge.”

Role of board members vs. staff

Walker states, “Boards are reflective of their leadership. The best boards have active, involved leaders who encourage board engagement in the nonprofit’s fundraising activities but stop short of micro-managing the development operation. Open communication, sharing of goals and mutual respect between the board and staff are also big factors in forming strong board relationships.”

Walker gives a clear distinction between the board and staff:

The board members are the leaders who represent and communicate the mission and vision of the organization.
The staff supports the board’s directives and implements the programs.
The board with its fiduciary responsibility needs to ensure all activities feed into the mission and vision, are transparent and accountable, and have no conflicts of interest.

Grace focuses on a positive relationship between the board and staff as well:

Communication between the CEO and board is critical to set clear expectations. The CEO runs everything but has to report to the board, so an honest relationship is critical.
The board should not get involved with the staff too intimately or there will be a feeling of “too many bosses” and it will strain the relationship with the CEO.

Watch for next week’s blog when we’ll compare and contrast the two authors’ views on recruitment, fundraising and donor motivation. You can download either of these book summaries at the Summary Store or subscribe to CausePlanet for access to the entire library of titles and live author interviews. For Grace’s book, visit and for Walker’s book, visit


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What grade does your board earn in fundraising?

More than 73 percent of the United States’ charitable giving in 2010 came from individuals, according to Giving USA 2011. When coupled with BoardSource’s report that asserts fundraising is the area most in need of improvement, nonprofit leaders can’t afford to ignore this challenge any longer.

In fact, when nonprofit CEOs were asked by BoardSource to rate board performance on a report card, fundraising received the lowest grade, a D+, and only a C+ when board members rated themselves. Fundraising Guide author, Julia Walker, acknowledges a board’s capacity to raise funding doesn’t change overnight, she does demonstrate it’s absolutely possible over time.

Having personally gone through the board fundraising experience as board chair and board member, I was impressed by Walker’s thorough approach in her book. Chock full of interesting facts, real-world anecdotes and useful tables for planning purposes, Walker’s book doesn’t leave you guessing.

I’ll excerpt one of her sidebars today because it’s a good reminder about motivation. If you want to get better grades on board fundraising, consider first how to make the grade on reasons for giving.

“When asked about their chartable behavior, high-net-worth households reported that their top motivations for giving were:

• Being moved by how their gift can make a difference (72%).
• Feeling financially secure (71%).
• Giving to an organization that will use their donation efficiently (71%).
• Supporting the same causes or organizations annually (66%).”

This information was quoted from the AFP wire report on the 2010 Bank of America Merrill Lynch Study of High Net Worth Philanthropy and was conducted by Bank of America and Merrill Lynch in partnership with the Center of Philanthropy at Indiana University. The study focused on 800 high-net-worth households. Respondents’ household incomes were greater than $200,000; net assets were at least $1 million; and the average household wealth was $10.7 million excluding the value of their residences. Over 98 percent donated to charitable causes.

Think about what your supporting materials say to emphasize making a difference, spending efficiently and promoting financial security of your donors. Furthermore, consider how you’re training your board members to induce these feelings in their personal asks.

Watch for more highlights from Julia Walker’s book next week at our Page to Practice™ blog. If you can’t wait that long, purchase her book at or download our Page to Practice™ summary and author interview by joining CausePlanet or visiting our summary store.

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Photo credit: ACCCBuzz

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Every board member has a place at the fundraising table

Raising more money in an extremely competitive environment means tapping every resource you have, beginning with your board members.

A Fundraising Guide for Nonprofit Board Members is the most comprehensive guide for best practices in fundraising and the involvement of board members we’ve recommended to date. Author Julia Walker covers all levels of fundraising, real world examples, tips and techniques for the browser and the engagement of board members throughout the giving cycle.

Walker takes the “give or get” mantra and replaces it with a description of a more active and productive role board members can play in achieving modest or lofty development goals. This book aims to help you transform your passive board into a lively cadre of volunteers who’re ready to cultivate and close all kinds of gifts.

Four compelling reasons why a board must take an active leadership role in fundraising include:

The board holds fiduciary responsibility for resources to fuel the mission, which involves transparency, accountability and no conflicts of interest.

The board oversees all fundraising programs and opportunities. It approves all projects and assures all fundraising is ethical and money goes toward the mission.

The board sets the pace through its own giving.

The board sets the tone for the community’s view of the nonprofit.

Even with advancement staff to provide structure, expertise and support, the board needs to lead and inspire with fundraising. To achieve maximum fundraising performance and avoid burnout, every board member must be involved in some capacity.

The leadership in the organization needs to implement the following to ensure all board members will be involved:

Recruit diverse members with fundraising experience or connections to donors.

Write a job description that includes fundraising for new board members.

Recruit in a manner where expectations are clear and not perceived as orders.

Provide fundraising training for board members.

For an in-depth look at Walker’s book and an author interview, download the full Page to Practice™ summary by visiting our store or subscribing to the library. You can purchase the book at and view Walker’s other books on fundraising.


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