What’s the point of the Campaign Board?

What’s the point of the Campaign Board? That’s not just a question that the fundraising team asks: The Board often asks it too! Because they are not clear why they are there. The very fact the question is raised tells you something’s not working. And the normal reason is that the Board has been brought together without a plan. Fundraising the Essentials for Success is designed to be a short read, but it takes time to tackle this issue, because a properly constructed Board makes a significant difference to your campaign.

The problem starts the moment an organisation decides to fundraise. The management team associated with the project are drafted onto the Campaign Board. Then something like an old pals act occurs. “If we can get so and so on board that would lend credibility to the campaign”. The emphasis is on getting these “influential people” on Board, because that boosts the confidence of the organisation. It happens without a proper discussion on exactly why members of the management team are there and what the external Board members will contribute to the campaign AND, very importantly, how much they are prepared to give. External and internal Board members must understand each others responsibilities.

It’s difficult for a fundraiser arriving at a project to find the Board already in place, particularly where no mention of making a donation has been discussed. We all know the standard response “I’m already making my contribution by giving my time.“ But are they giving their time effectively when there has been no discussion of what is expected of them?

Americans are much more direct when it comes to putting the Campaign Board together, compared to the general approach in the UK. The simple brutal mantra of Give; Get; or Get Out! perfectly summarises what is expected. One conversation I had with a wealthy American underlined the point. He said “When someone asks if I would be interested in joining their Campaign Board, my first question is How Much?“ The assumption that they will be expected to give is hard wired in Americans, because how can you ask for money when you haven’t given yourself?

Your chances of running a successful campaign will increase significantly when you get the right people on the Board. The blog two ears, two eyes, one mouth...  is a useful read in this context to ensure you and they both  have a clear understanding of why they are there. Fundraising the Essentials for Success goes into the details of selection process, management and motivation.

Size matters. Too small and the weight on individual Board members can be onerous, given that most of them will have other jobs. Too big and the most demanding challenge can be organising the meeting dates for the Board. Obviously modern communications can substitute for physical presence. But lack of physical presence doesn’t say much for commitment or do much for the fundraising team’s morale. And that’s when the question is asked “What’s the point of the Campaign Board?”

During a campaign, different phases need different skills and perspectives. You don’t have to keep expanding the Board. Most effective people are busy people. Knowing they are being asked for a time limited contribution is a bonus. And it keeps the Board lean and manageable. Get the Board selection right. Ensure every member knows why they are there and explains their role to the rest of the Board. Then the question “What’s the point of the Campaign Board? ” becomes irrelevant!