The upcoming Spring issue of In Trust magazine, due to be mailed next month, includes an in-depth article about the roles that board members play in fundraising at nonprofit institutions.

In the article, Penelope Burk, president of Cygnus Applied Research, shares some of the insights she gained from a recent survey of 4,500 nonprofit board members.

A few key takeaways:

  • Board members feel they are responsible for the fundraising successes of their organizations. This is good -- because they are indeed responsible for this, as they are for all other outcomes.
  • But board members are often wrong about what specific tasks belong to them. Of the 12 tasks that contribute to a successful fundraising program, board members claim responsibility for four. Unfortunately, two of those four rightly belong to the CEO, not to the board.
  • Board members can be hugely influential in terms of fundraising.                     

What do boards avoid responsibility for, even though it should be in their basket? Making the "case."

The single most important responsibility of the board is determining the case for fundraising. In other words, the governing board sets the strategic objectives for the charitable organization and identifies specific programs, services, or initiatives that donors can support with their gifts. 

To read the article in its entirety, watch for the Spring issue of In Trust magazine to hit your mailbox, or read the article online. It will be available at

Interested in reading more of Burk’s work? Check out “Board members and the art of saying thanks” from the Summer 2013 issue of In Trust magazine. Or check out her blog.

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Image credit: Charles Forerunner.