Publications & Products
Volume 2, Issue 5

Motivating a Fundraising Board

Advancement officials who liaise with fundraising boards need to take more personal responsibility for their members' engagement with donor cultivation, says a CASE faculty member.

Woodrow Powell, director of community relations at the Community College of Baltimore County in Maryland, recently spoke on the psychology of board motivation during a CASE webinar—the archive of which is now available for purchase.

"You are the most important piece of [board] motivation; not someone else," Powell says. "You have to know [board members] to motivate them... You need to put them in a place where they can succeed."

He suggests the following:

  • Recruit board members who believe in the college mission, board mission and understand board membership criteria. Powell recommends asking prospective board members about how they came to be involved with the institution, what other philanthropic pursuits they have and whether they've ever been involved in a board or leadership capacity with them. Also, for further quality control, he notes that the responsibilities of board membership should be well understood by prospective individuals before they're officially tapped.
  • Constantly engage members and reinforce the value of their commitment. Powell advises frequently conferring with board members about opportunities when they can talk about their service to the college in their personal and professional lives. This will further the college's reach and expand its number of fundraising prospects in the community. He also suggests making board meetings active affairs in which all members are encouraged to speak their minds and participate in discussions and decisions—not simply passive ones where members attend and leave without offering input or speaking out.
  • Create a culture that will develop positive attitudes about fundraising. Powell says board liaisons should keep up to date on the personal and professional successes of board members and remember to compliment them on these as appropriate. Keeping apprised of and acknowledging their achievements will make them more apt to think about the college's goals and how they can help it reach them, he says.
  • Make the board chair the motivator-in-chief. Powell notes that a board is only as motivated as its leader. He says that the board chair should be the key communicator and motivator for the board's committees and individual members.

Please share your questions and comments with Marc Westenburg via email at or +1 202 478 5570.

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This article is from the November 2012 issue of the Community College Advancement News.


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