The relationship between fundraising and the Board

Learn the top tips for building Board confidence in fundraising in this case study with Linden New Art.

Top tips for building Board confidence in fundraising.

Case study with Linden New Art

Tip 1: Complete a skills matrix.

Boards need to recognise fundraising as a profession, and most are well-placed to include a fundraising skill-set at the table.


A skills matrix (link to template?) will help you identify the skills and expertise of your board members. Is there a fundraising / philanthropy gap? Recruit for a director with those skills to help develop your fundraising strategy.


Having a fundraising expert on your board can help drive conversations about the importance of fundraising, and provide strategic oversight of your fundraising plan.


If you don’t have the budget for a development professional on staff (or can only afford one part-time), having someone on your board with fundraising experience becomes crucial.

Tip 2: Train board members in fundraising as part of the induction process.

CEOs and Chairs have a major role to play in board induction, training and resource development.


Start building fundraising expertise from the first day a board director joins your organisation. Make sure they understand fundraising strategy and best practice as well as your organisation’s plan, targets and performance measures.


Of course, while the board’s investment in fundraising success is crucial, they are one part of the equation. Becoming a successful fundraising organisation requires everyone, at every level, to pitch in.

Tip 3: Get comfortable talking about money and giving.

When you start talking to philanthropic foundations or trusts, or to a high-value donor, most of them will want to know – does your Board give?


To be able to confidently answer ‘yes’ is a powerful conversation starter because it shows that the board believes in your vision and mission.


It’s not about writing large cheques – it’s about your directors giving to their capacity. This means they can approach their networks confidently and say, ‘I give too’, which helps build a circle of generosity.


Have a conversation with each board member about the kind of role they would like to play in terms of fundraising. Then keep talking about it.

Tip 4: Develop a culture of fundraising.


Driving conversations about fundraising will boost the confidence of board members who are a little uncomfortable or shy about asking people for money.


When planning for the next financial year, have the entire board contribute to the fundraising strategy. Put fundraising on the agenda at every board meeting and report against your strategy’s KPIs.


If you have someone on your board with fundraising expertise, support them to work with other directors to become comfortable with the language of fundraising.


Setting up a culture of fundraising takes time, repetition and courage. Over time, conversations about fundraising around the board table will feel more natural, and become a regular part of the vernacular.


Tip 5: Identify the ways each board member can contribute.


Play to your board members’ diverse skill sets and strengths. Every board member comes with their own perceptions and experience of fundraising – work out where everyone’s comfort levels are, and build on that.


The aim is to make fundraising collaborative – to have staff and board working together and sharing in the successes of fundraising.


The most obvious role is the giver, but there are other roles directors can play that are just as important. Could they be an asker? A storyteller? A connector? A thanker?


By articulating these roles, each board member understands the part they play in your organisation’s fundraising goals.

Tip 6: Establish a development or fundraising sub-committee.

Set up a fundraising subcommittee of about 3-4 board directors to meet in between board meetings.


Sub-committees tap the individual skills of board members and can be an efficient and effective way to have deeper conversations, flesh out some of the bigger topics and campaigns and report back to the board for decision making.