Grant Readiness Challenge: Day 17: Engage Board Members in Grantmaker Relationships

Imagine, you have formed the perfect governing board for your nonprofit organization. Now it’s time to encourage them to climb aboard the fundraising bus. How will you engage them in forming relationships with funders to help get those hard-sought after grants? The first thing you should do is make sure you have a funding plan which the entire board understands and can follow. Then help them on their journey to help you raise those funds! Here are several tips—choose the ones that work best for you and your board. As part of day 17 in your grant readiness challenge, which one will you try with your board first?

  1. Use a board relationship questionnaire once a year.
  2. Poll the board for each new funder you identify.
  3. Ask board members to attend a funder panel, local community foundation open house, Chamber of Commerce meeting, rotary club happy hour, conference, or an award ceremony for local nonprofits to start rubbing shoulders with the right people.
  4. Ask them to call, email, or write one funder per month or more. Make sure you know the funder’s preferred contact method
  5. Put foundation names on individual index cards along with a list of current staff/board members and contact information. At the next meeting, pass the cards around and ask your board if they know anyone listed. If they do, assign them to contact that person and start the relationship. That board member walks away with the card.
  6. Remind your board that funders are people too. They appreciate manners and like to know that people are interested in them too, not just their money. Encourage board members to email or call a funder to discuss an article that might be in their area of interest such as homelessness.
  7. Provide a cold call script for board members to use: introduction, nonprofit mission, ask if the funder has a few minutes to talk, ask questions about the proposal process which may not be answered on funder website, invite funder out for coffee or to visit nonprofit, and end with a hearty thank you.
  8. Suggest board members volunteer to review grants for a local funder (during a grant cycle when your organization is not applying).
  9. Have a board member who is active on social media? Ask them to follow a funder, repost what they share, and comment thoughtfully on their posts.

Now, quit imagining and start building those valuable relationships! Today’s challenge is to try one of the above suggestions with one board member to help with one grantmaker relationship.


Don’t forget to share your journey on the 30-Day Grant Readiness Challenge by using the hashtag #grantreadiness on your posts and updates on social media. 

Did you miss the launch of the 30-Day Grant Readiness Challenge? It isn’t too late for you to start! You can sign up at any point and it will start you back on Day 1!

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