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Nonprofit Organizations with Active Fundraising Boards More Likely to Meet Goal

(Sept. 25, 2012) In a research first, the Nonprofit Research Collaborative (NRC) finds a direct association between active fundraising by nonprofit board members and the organization meeting its fundraising goals.

Sixty percent of organizations where board members help with fundraising met their 2011 fundraising goal, compared with just 53 percent of organizations without board member engagement, a statistically significant difference given the sample size.

“Seventy-eight percent of those surveyed ask board members to request contributions to the organization from family and friends,” said James D. Yunker, Chair of the Giving USA Foundation, a member of the NRC. “That simple step is probably the single most important thing an organization can do to engage board members in fundraising. It is associated with meeting fundraising goals for all sizes of organization, proving again that fundraising is all about relationships.”

This study also debunks a common perception that board members help an organization meet its fundraising goal through their own giving. Board member gifts were required at 57 percent of the responding charitable organizations but made up 10 percent or less of total charitable receipts at a majority of every type of organization studied. Less than 20 percent of responding charitable organizations required a minimum board member gift amount.

“The smallest organizations often struggle to recruit board members, so it is not surprising that only 13 percent require a minimum gift from board members,” said Tom Pollak, Director of the National Center for Charitable Statistics, also a member of the NRC. “Only 27 percent of organizations with expenditures of $10 million require a minimum gift from board members.”

Respondents indicated which of 11 different board member engagement methods they use at their organizations. The methods ranged from relatively easy steps, such as thanking doors without asking for another gift or sharing a mailing list, to having face-to-face meetings with donors or making personal introductions. On average, organizations with active fundraising boards used between six and seven of the different methods studied. Some of the methods were associated, with statistical significance, with a greater probability of meeting fundraising goal.

A key feature of the successful methods is that  they expand the nonprofit organization’s list of prospective donors, either because board members share their contact lists or make personal introductions or host special “get to know you” sessions.

Selected key findings 

  • Engaging board members in fundraising helps organizations reach their fundraising goals. For 2011, 60 percent of those that did engage board members met their goal, compared with just 53 percent of those who did not
  • Working with a board-level development committee increases the chances an organization met its goal in 2011: 63 percent of organizations with a board-level development committee met their fundraising goals for 2011, compared with 52 percent of those without that type of committee.
  • Organizations in which board members request friends or business associates to make a financial contribution met their fundraising goals for 2011 more frequently than did those that did not ask board members to make similar requests.
  • Among organizations that require a minimum board member contribution, the median amount $1,000, but it higher for arts ($2,000), and education nonprofit organizations ($2,500).The minimum amounts also increase with organizational budget size, with some very large organizations asking for minimums of more than $100,000.

About the Survey

The Nonprofit Research Collaborative (NRC) conducts surveys two times a year. The current report is available at www.NonprofitResearchCollaborative.org.

The online survey was conducted January-February 2012. The 1,602 U.S. respondents form a convenience sample. There is no margin of error, as it is not a random sample. Reported results are statistically significant to p<.05 using chi-square analysis.

About the Nonprofit Research Collaborative (NRC)

Each NRC member has, at a minimum, a decade of direct experience collecting information from nonprofits concerning charitable receipts, fundraising practices, and/or grantmaking activities. NRC partners are the Association of Fundraising Professionals; Blackbaud; Campbell Rinker; Giving USA Foundation; and the National Center for Charitable Statistics at the Urban Institute.



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