The board is often the most critical piece in moving any nonprofit forward.

We often hear from staff: “our board doesn’t do anything!” while on the other hand, we often hear from board members: “I don’t know what they want!” The various skillsets and perspectives that can be involved in a single board may seem daunting to navigate when trying to maintain a healthy annual giving program. However, there are a many basic practices to make the board/staff synergy more useful when working towards these goals.

Start by training your board to support the fundraising process.

This can happen annually and should also happen when a new member joins. Train them on the four ways they can be involved in the fundraising process, which includes providing intel, inviting donors to activities, directly asking for gifts, and thanking donors. Not everyone needs to be asking for gifts.

Consider your committee structure.

Ensure sure sound practices are in place for board committee work; this is an important tool for long-term organizational success. Board committees should be reflective of your bylaws, and at minimum should include a governance/nominating committee, executive committee, finance/audit committee, and either a DEI committee or task force. Have a committee charter on hand for each group so the purpose and goals of them are clear.

Review the structure of meeting agendas to include a good balance of mission milestones, program updates, and strategic alignment conversation – as well as other necessary reporting. Every meeting should have a component of new talking points and advocacy strategies for board members to when promoting the organization (in addition to providing the information board members need to fulfill their governance role).

Think about your board’s diversity.

This just isn’t about demographics, but skill set as well. When recruiting new board members, make sure they fill needed gaps on your board. Do a board assessment to see where you have missing skill sets, AND demographics that you might need.

Engage non-board members that are on committees.

Aside from your Executive Committee, non-board members can (and should) serve on your board committees. Look at your current donor pool and identify needed skill sets and make the ask. Naturally, this can function as a good funnel system on and off the board, too.


Each year, the board chair should have an evaluation time with each board member. Are they serving on a committee? Are they participating in fundraising practices? Is there somewhere else they would rather serve? Take time to really hear them!

Your board can serve as an essential asset to your organization, by offering a diverse set of resources and perspectives to aid in your fundraising. By realizing your board’s potential through sound board development practices, you gain a community of supporters that will drive your organization toward sound philanthropy.

This content was originally presented in a Kennari Roundtable (monthly educational programs for Kennari clients) by Senior Strategist Kirstin VanderMolen