Using a nonprofit board to raise awareness

September 3, 2014

Using a nonprofit board to raise awareness

Opinions are divided in the nonprofit world over how to best use an organization's board for fundraising efforts. There have been a variety of opinions offered on the issue, from having board members actively participate in such efforts, to reserving their interaction for longtime, high-level and otherwise desirable donors. For many nonprofit groups, finding the right fit for involving the board directly in gathering contributions will be an individual process that balances the cachet of these leaders in the community with the practical problems that occur when people untrained in fundraising are thrust into such a role.

One area where board members can be more effective is in the general area of raising awareness. Fundraisers must have certain background experience to effectively raise money. Just because a board member cares about a nonprofit organization doesn't mean they have the knowledge, personality or thought process that's most conducive to getting donations. What all board members do have – at least in theory – is passion for the cause being supported by an organization and knowledge of its projects and programs. For this reason, it's easier to use board members in an awareness raising role where their involvement in the operations of a nonprofit shine through.

Getting the most out of board member efforts
Nonprofit marketing blog Getting Attention suggests enhancing the ability of board members to raise awareness by doing some simple training. One such exercise is to sit down with the board members during or after a meeting and have them tell, and write down, the story of why they serve on the board. Members will already know their personal stories, but articulating them can make a big difference when it comes to raising awareness and speaking with others for the first time.

The Nonprofit Resource Network highlighted one particular area where board members can be especially effective: communicating with important and highly regarded members of the local community. Board members will often travel in the same circles as local and area business leaders, and can focus their awareness raising efforts on the people who themselves hold a high level of influence. This is an area where the leaders of a nonprofit can provide a great benefit to their organizations.

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