Board Works

Pop Quiz time. You’ve just started at a new organization. There hasn’t been any ongoing fundraising for quite some and the Board leadership wants you to get out there and start raising funds. What’s the very first thing you should do?

If you answered: Start with your Board, give yourself a solid B. To get the extra points that will move your grade to an A, you’d need to be a bit more specific.
What, then, specifically, should you do? First, make sure that every (and that means all of them—no exceptions) have made their annual give. Call those who haven’t and for that gift now.

What? There isn’t an annual giving requirement? Get your Board leadership together and then them that an annual, unrestricted gift requirement for every member of the board must be instituted immediately. The only acceptable negotiation is ho much. And do not let them sell you short.

Yes, of course you will lose some Board members. That’s good news. You can now replace them with people who will be happy to write that check.

Done? Great. You now have a grade of B+. The A comes when you ask each of your generous Board members to introduce you to someone they know who could support your organization at that annual level or higher.

Let’s be clear on a few things. First, “Introduce you,” does NOT mean that they give you a name and tell you contact the person saying, “Joe (or whatever your Board member’s name actually is) told me to call you.” Introduce means that Joe (or whoever) sets up an appointment for the three of you where you are formally and physically introduced to the prospect.

Secondly, and I know this is going to sound counterintuitive, you don’t want Joe to call on his friend and simply for a gift. You very well might get a check, but then you have the beginning of a beautiful relationship. A relationship that you may be able to bring to a higher level.

Great. You have earned your A grade. But don’t stop there. Get the gift from Joe’s friend. Then earn extra credit by asking the friend, who is now your friend, what friends of his he can introduce you to.

Janet Levine is a fundraising consultant. She can be reached at Her online grantwriting class is available at