As the busy year-end season approaches, many of you Fundraisers may be thinking – how come my board doesn’t help me more with fundraising? Some of my clients have been talking with me about this too and one of my first questions always is, “Do you have board member job descriptions?” More often than not, the answer is no.

Let me be clear. I am not suggesting that a job description for your board is some magical solution that produces board members who bring in tons of donations. But it’s still something I encourage clients to do for this main reason: what you expect of your board members could be very different than what they THINK you expect. Why not make it very clear?

A board member job description is an efficient and effective way to communicate your expectations to all board members. Yes, I’m thinking about fundraising specifically. Let them know how much you expect them to give (minimum) and that they need to make a gift every year. Let them know other ways you expect them to participate in fundraising: helping to find corporate sponsors, inviting guests to your fundraising event, and/or bringing potential donors in for a tour of your program are some examples. Another way to ask board members to help with fundraising is to expect them to make thank you calls and send thank you notes to major donors.

Maybe it doesn’t make sense to you for all board members to have the same expectations. You could make some requirements mandatory (like making a personal gift) and then have board members choose other ways they most want to help. This approach makes it easy to see what type of board members you need to recruit in order to fill the gaps.

Of course, it’s not just about fundraising. A good board member job description can also include: meeting attendance requirements, committee participation expectations, details about term limits, and more. Executive Committee members should have more detailed job descriptions that are specific to their individual roles.

Put yourself in your board members’ shoes. Wouldn’t you like to know, from the beginning, exactly what is expected of you? Putting together a board member job description is a great way to make sure you have done this for your board.

And if you’re thinking that writing down all these expectations will make your board members leave the organization, well – maybe that isn’t such a bad thing. If they are not willing to do the minimum of what you expect, then it’s better to recruit another volunteer who is willing.

If this task feels overwhelming, send me an email. I am happy to share some sample job descriptions with you. And then maybe when you’re planning for year-end next year you may feel differently about how much your board will be able to help.