How To Get Your Board Excited About Year-End Fundraising

Don’t know how to ask your board to get involved in year-end fundraising? Consultant Alyssa Wright shares her secrets to success, including sample messages you can make your own.


A few weeks ago, an organization contacted me in a panic. Their fundraising event didn’t raise what they’d hoped, and they had an additional $20,000 to get in the door before the end of the year. That was in addition to securing the regular year-end appeal fundraising from their current donor base—a donor base that truly was a bit tired and uninspired.

Faced with a deficit that could only be made up for by asking current donors for additional gifts or smartly stewarding new contacts from the event, the executive director felt it was time to engage her board of director. She had to get the board deeply involved in year-end outreach and recognized how critical it was since she, herself, was going to be out of the country overseeing a program for a few weeks during the peak of year-end fundraising season.

When you have a small team and a busy executive director, it’s critical to craft simple tools to get board members involved in fundraising efforts.

When situations happen like the one above, your board of directors can play a very specific and timely role in ensuring that your nonprofit’s fundraising goals are met. Still not convinced? I’ve seen organizations raise 25-20% more at the end of the year by strategically enlisting board members. Below is basic plan and messaging to inspire your board members to become fearless fundraisers. Challenge yourself and put it in place for your next board meeting using these board year-end fundraising tips!

Step 1: Map out a personalized year-end fundraising plan for each board member.

Make it thoughtful. Play to their strengths. For example, the personalized plan for a board member with a large income and business network should be different than the plan for a board member with a smaller income but lots of community influence and a love for socializing. [Download our peer-to-peer fundraising guide.] And remember, stretch your board to achieve goals that are slightly beyond what they expect is possible!

Customize the sample plan below for your board:


    Raise $60,000 by Dec. 31, 2018 from three main sources:

    1. Direct mail and email year-end appeals to donor base: $25,000
    2. Board of Directors year-end appeals: $20,000
    3. Executive director appeals: $15,000


    Raise $5,000 by Dec. 31, 2018 from three main sources:

    1. Make personal annual gift: $1,000
    2. Ask three other donors via letter to match her gift: $3,000
    3. Ask four family members/friends to give $250 each: $1,000


    Raise $5,000 by Dec. 31, 2018 from three main sources:

    1. Make personal annual gift: $250
    2. Throw small house party with 10-15 friends and ask for donations: $1,500
    3. Ask four family members/friends to give $250: $1,000
    4. Support executive director in telephone outreach to current donors: $2,250

Step 2: Start the conversation about fundraising by sharing your successes.

Customize the sample message below for your nonprofit:

    “I’m so thrilled to report that we have 35 new students enrolled in our programs this fall. I wanted to start today’s board meeting by reading a testimonial from one of the youngest new students, Jack. [Share a letter or quote from Jack or his parents.] As you can see, this work is having a transformational impact on the lives of children. I don’t want us to ever forget why we are here as a team to build this organization and why we do what we do each day, no matter what barriers face us. I am so grateful to you all.”

Step 3: Outline the fundraising opportunity.

Customize the sample message below for your nonprofit:

    “As you can imagine, there are many more “Jacks” out there, and we want to ensure stability for the program for next fall. We also see the opportunity to grow strategically in the next year if we focus on sustainability now. I’m really excited to share with you a plan I’ve mapped to engage you all in bringing this vision to fruition so next year, so we have more reach and impact than ever.”

Step 4: Present your personalized plan for each board member and take questions.

Customize the message below for your nonprofit:

    “That shared, I’d love us to work as a team to bring in 30 new donors by year end and raise $60,000 together. I’ve mapped a “Fierce Fundraising Plan” for each of you, and I’d love you to take a moment, review your plan, and ask me questions so we can get ready to rock it for all the Jacks out there!”

Step 5: Hold board members accountable but stay upbeat!

Send out a weekly email to the group to check in. Share success. Share failures. Work as a team. Customize the message below for your nonprofit:

    “Hello everyone, I’m so thrilled you are all on this journey to year’s-end with me! It’s an exciting time for us and here’s a quick update on our students so far this month: [share update here].
    That said, how is the ‘Fierce Fundraising’ going? To date, I’ve seen $1,500 come in from the board’s networks so we are off to a great start! Thanks to those of you who made your individual gifts at this time as well or an additional gift—you rock! John, our board chair, had this tip to share from his recent outreach: “Make sure to ask more people than you want to actually see give. I’ve had to ask about 10 in the hopes of securing my goal of 3.”
    Keep rocking and thank you all so much! Next update will be in two weeks for you all.

I’m wishing you all the best with your year-end fundraising! Rock it!

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Featured Photo: Increase Slovak Girls Participation in Technology by Pontis Foundation

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