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The Chronicle of Philanthropy

May 27, 2004

Advice to Help Board Members Raise Money
By Jessica Kronstadt

A review of Boards That Love Fundraising: A How-To Guide for Your Board, by Robert M. Zimmerman and Ann W. Lehman.

If an organization is not receiving sufficient donations, it often is because "the board and staff members don't ask for money effectively, they don't ask often enough, and sometimes they don't ask -- period," write Robert M. Zimmerman and Ann W. Lehman, both of Zimmerman Lehman, a fund-raising consulting firm in San Francisco. Their book is designed to help board members understand their fund-raising responsibilities and become more comfortable soliciting gifts.

The authors say that board members should make personal contributions; solicit donations from colleagues, friends, and relatives; recruit new board members who have connections to influential people and potential donors; and oversee the staff's fund-raising efforts. Mr. Zimmerman and Ms. Lehman also give an overview of different methods of fund raising -- such as direct mail, foundation and company grants, and special events -- and describe the board's role in each.

The book provides tips to help board members overcome the fear of rejection and feel more comfortable asking for support -- they should not view fund raising as begging, for example, but as "creating opportunities" for people to "invest in successful enterprises." The authors advise board members to tailor their message to the people they are soliciting. For example, when seeking support for a group working with poor children, some potential donors might be receptive to the organization's efforts to combat juvenile delinquency, while others might be more attracted to its work to "empower" youths. However, the authors caution that nonprofit groups should not stray from their missions in the pursuit of financial support.

The authors also discuss other important elements of fund raising, including providing specific program details to prospective donors, acknowledging gifts, and keeping records of donations and interactions with contributors.

This article may also be viewed online at The Chronicle of Philanthropy.

Copyright 2004 The Chronicle of Philanthropy.

Boards That Love Fundraising is currently available to order at Amazon.com




Copyright © 2005, Zimmerman Lehman