William R Mott, Ph.D. William R. Mott, Ph.D.Consultant Author Speaker



Board Development Issue Number 5 on our Top 10

Published in About Me, Board Chair Responsibilities, Board Development, Boards and Fundraising, Education, Faith-based Schools, Governance Issues, Heads of Schools, Independent Schools, News, Nonprofit CEOs, Nonprofit Governance, Nonprofit organizations, The Board Game, Uncategorized

The Top Ten Board Development Issues

That Impact Your Organization

Number Five

Fundraising is Fundamental


“You make a living by what you get. You make a life by what you give.”

          — Sir Winston Churchill

“In good times and bad, we know that people give because you meet needs, not because you have needs.”

          — Kay Sprinkel Grace

Much is required from those to whom much is given. 

          — Luke 12:48


What is universally true about nonprofit organizations is that they each require financial resources (revenue) to sustain their operation, provide capital for major projects, and a healthy endowment ensuring sustainability into an uncertain future. While there are no guarantees, what we are objectively clear about is that these components are needed for an organization to contribute something significant to our culture and society.

If it is true that those closest to the organization are best suited to be its biggest supporters then it stands to reason that the boards of trustees, collectively and individually, are in the best position to provide this necessary financial support. It must be said that support from outside the board is also fundamental. Major donors as well as donors at every giving level are needed throughout all constituencies.  

When a prospective trustee is recruited there are many issues that must be shared – including the issue that fundraising is fundamental! Board members potentially bring many needed attributes to their service on the Board and chief among these is the responsibility to give as generously as is someone’s ability to do so. The Committee on Trustees (when recruiting), and specifically, the Board Chair has the responsibility of candor. It may also fall to the board’s development committee to make certain that 100% of the board contribute. Nothing less is acceptable.

There can be no disguising the fact that giving as generously as possible and supporting this process is the responsibility of each trustee. It may not be THE reason someone was asked to be on the board, but it is most certainly A reason someone was asked to join the board. Never lose sight of the fact that for the Board of Trustees, fundraising is fundamental!

Note: There are far too many wonderful quotes on this topic to share only one! 


  1. I totally agree that fundraising is fundamental. However, how you designate fundraising roles can make a difference between board members supporting this role or not.
    I have stopped calling the process fundraising and use the term Resource Development. There are many roles one can take in resources development that do not include ASKING for money, which seems to be the big hurdle for many individuals. Identification, cultivation, and stewardship of donors and resources are all roles that board members can fulfill. Maybe, after participating in those areas, they will work up to being comfortable with soliciting. Maybe not! However, they will still feel successful as resource developers.
    Reworking how you think about the ‘give, get, or get-off’ mantra can also help you train your board members to work up to being better givers. I have found that trying to force members to give through board contracts, etc., is a great way to alienate your board and drive them away from participating in resource development.

    • William Mott says:


      Thank you for your comment. I agree with what you say and address the issue of what board members can do to be involved in all aspects of resource development (a good term) in my next book which should be out by the end of the year. Like you, I am not in favor of contracts. A covenant agreement is a more effective approach.



  2. I concur that this is a fundamental responsibility of board members. In my experience, nonprofits struggle with implementation. I believe the solution is to engage board members in robust generative conversations about mission, vision, goals, outcomes, and the overarching issue in the community or the world.. When they truly feel that they own the organization, and are responsible for its health and its outcomes and its future, they organically become compelling ambassadors and fundraisers. Creating that sense of ownership is overlooked, as staff attempt to “manage” their boards rather than let them lean into responsibility. A good (slim) book about this is Boards on Fire: Inspiring Leaders to Raise Money Joyfully. Good luck with YOUR next book!