Board Members Are Not Our Development Directors

by Carlo Cuesta for Advisor to Superheroes, June 2nd, 2011.

In the May 1st online edition of the Chronicle of Philanthropy a headline stated:“Charities Give Boards Little Training in Fund Raising, Study Finds.” I would argue that most board members do not want training in fund raising. They didn’t join our organizations because they wanted to learn how to prospect, cultivate, and make “asks.”

When we try to engage our boards in fund raising, we make a glaring mistake—we talk about it from the organization’s perspective rather than the board member’s perspective. We seek to engage them in organizational fund raising mechanisms and activities that make many members feel downright uncomfortable, reinforcing their aversion. The 2010 BoardSource Governance Index survey shows that the situation (board members and their desire to fund raise) is getting worse.

Board members who succeed in the fund raising effort, inherently see it as a means and not an end. The “end” they are seeking, building a strong relationship between those in their network and the cause they care deeply about, is a place where everybody wins—the donor, the board member, and the organization. (continue reading… )


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