The Campaign-Ready Board of Directors

Campaign Planning Studies invariably find that the individuals serving on the organization’s board of directors need to become better known in the community – especially among the community’s top philanthropists – for their work on behalf of the organization they serve.

Why is this so important? Because active engagement by the organization’s team of volunteer leaders within the community of philanthropists is a harbinger of successful campaigns. Fundraising is a competitive sport. The stakes are transformational changes that can elevate an organization into position to create solutions and impact lives.

Here’s the thing: The Board’s capacity to influence a substantive number of philanthropic decisions often is the ‘X’ Factor that separates successful campaign from all the others.

Is the Board of Directors campaign-ready? Five things that can help:

Training & Orientation. Fundraising often generates many questions, fears, and concerns for board members.   The solution? Use training & orientation sessions to help increase comfort and confidence, build each member’s capacity to contribute in an effective way, and demonstrate that fundraising is well within their talents and abilities.

Grow the Team. Task Board members with finding others to join the team as volunteer campaign leaders. Every community has individuals willing and able to sign on for short-term, highly focused projects and tasks. A full-scale campaign requires a large corps of volunteers. Behind the scenes roles – unpaid staff – are ideal for those who prefer not to be frontline fundraisers.

First In Commitments. Before asking others, Board members need to make their own gift decisions. And, it’s a good exercise to experience the thoughtful decision-making such commitments require. Their support challenges and inspires those asked later to support the campaign.

Ask Others to Give. Each ask needs the right person asking. Personal relationships, credibility, and stature are important. Such indicators often point to Board members. Since asking is not for everyone, Board members who identify prospective donors and provide access to them also are valuable contributors to a total team effort.

Top Philanthropic Priority. If people in the community don’t believe that members of the Board view the organization as their top philanthropic priority, as being absolutely vital and critical to the community, then why should they? Board members must lead by example. By making an exciting financial commitment – and, by being an extraordinary champion of the organization – a Board member can make all the difference in a campaign’s success.


About ted sudol

Ted Sudol brings a cross-disciplinary perspective to his work in philanthropy & fundraising. Currently Managing Director at CARTER, a professional firm dedicated to advancing philanthropy worldwide, he has nearly four decades as a fundraiser, lawyer, executive, communicator and consultant in the voluntary, public and private sectors. From local to global, his work with educational, healthcare, arts & cultural, and community organizations ranges from designing new ventures, campaign readiness plans, and complex gift strategies for high net worth families to rebuilding and repositioning projects. His specialty is bringing together diverse parties in innovative collaborations. He devises simple approaches for complex matters to achieve successful outcomes. A graduate of Georgetown and Temple Law School, he currently serves on the board for AFP Shenandoah Valley Chapter, the AFP International Education Advisory Council, and the Virginia FundRaising Institute's Planning Committee. He has been a long-time board member for Big Brothers Big Sisters of Harrisonburg & Rockingham County, Virginia.
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