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Board fundraising: 4 roles your nonprofit's board must fill

December 22, 2021
A group of three coworkers brainstorm about board fundraising at a table with a pile of papers on it.

Your board members not only have leadership responsibilities to your nonprofit organization, but they also have fiduciary responsibilities. When they assume their position, they agree to help your nonprofit raise the funds it needs to achieve its purpose.

In this guide, we’ll walk through four fundraising roles that board members can take on during campaigns. We encourage you to consider these roles and assign responsibilities that play to the strengths of your board members.

How do you motivate board members to fundraise?

Fundraising is a key part of each board member’s role, and board involvement can greatly improve the outcomes of your fundraising campaigns. They not only can make donations themselves, but they can also introduce your nonprofit to their personal and professional network, spread the word about your purpose to the community, and provide helpful feedback on your fundraising strategy.

Here are a few ways you can motivate board members to participate in your fundraising efforts:

  • Set expectations early. Before adding new board members, take the time to clearly lay out their responsibilities during the interview process. Most organizations have members sign a board member agreement that lists the specific expectations and responsibilities they must fulfill while serving on the board, including specific fundraising responsibilities.
  • Explain why you’re fundraising. Highlight the specific impact fundraising dollars have to show them the tangible effects. For example, you might reference a successful fundraising campaign that enabled your organization to expand a core program and reach more beneficiaries.
  • Train them to fundraise. Ask your more experienced staff and board members to host training sessions with new members to teach them fundraising fundamentals. If your board members feel prepared to make fundraising asks, they will be more willing to help, more confident, and more successful.
  • Assign specific tasks. Assign specific roles to each of your board members that align with their strengths and experiences. Help them gain a better understanding of their responsibilities and how they fit into the overall campaign by checking in periodically. To ensure they understand their individual responsibilities, create specific task lists for each board member.

The key to driving board involvement during fundraising campaigns is clear communication and support from your staff. Make it as easy as possible for your board to understand their roles and responsibilities.

What are the four key board fundraising roles?

In addition to outlining clear board responsibilities, assigning specific roles to each member ensures they know which tasks to focus on. Draft a detailed description of each of the following roles and take the time to decide which board members will thrive in each role. You may have multiple board members in each of these roles or need someone to cover two roles depending on the size and expertise of your board, but make sure you have someone to fill each role.


The Ambassador serves as a representative or promoter of your nonprofit. Board members who take on the Ambassador role will be the face of your organization to their networks and actively engage their contacts in your work.

Some specific responsibilities for Ambassadors include:

  • Inviting friends, family, and colleagues to events. Ambassadors help you attract attendees to important events by inviting members of their personal and professional networks. Ask Ambassadors to submit contact information for potential attendees or personally invite their contacts.
  • Hosting house parties. Ambassadors can also host their own events, inviting their acquaintances so they can share about your purpose with new audiences. When Ambassadors take on the responsibility of hosting an event for your nonprofit, it saves you the time, effort, and costs of organizing your own event.
  • Sharing donor and prospect information with staff. Cultivating relationships with existing and prospective major donors is a critical step in the fundraising process. Ambassadors can be an excellent asset for your fundraising team when it comes to learning more about your major donors and prospects and sharing those details with your staff.

The ideal candidate for this role identifies as a “people person,” is comfortable talking up your nonprofit and its purpose, and is well-connected to a large, philanthropically-inclined social network.


The Connector’s strength lies in getting the right people in touch with your organization. They work to organize points of connection with donors and other important entities.

As a Connector, members in this role might:

  • Gather lists of prospects for donor cultivation and solicitation from other board members.
  • Set up meetings with individuals, corporations, foundations, or government agencies that can provide funding.
  • Perform research and organize meetings that allow them to serve as a matchmaker between your nonprofit organization and promising prospects.

When choosing board members to fill this role, keep in mind that having a large social and professional network is important (as with the Ambassador role). However, the Connector role is better suited to those who prefer to work behind the scenes, so they may not be as outgoing as Ambassadors. Also, choose a board member who has excellent organizational skills and the bandwidth to juggle these important meetings.


The Solicitor is your closer. They are willing to participate in major donor fundraising and make asks.

As your closer, Solicitors will need to:

  • Undergo specific solicitation training. Teaching board members to solicit a gift from donors can make them feel more confident and present your nonprofit organization as a united front. Train them on how to explain your purpose, describe specific programs, and navigate common questions.
  • Attend important meetings and events. Cultivating relationships with donors is necessary to make an ask, and luncheons and other fundraising events provide the perfect opportunity. The relationships they build there can factor into winning a major donation in the future. Donors are more likely to respond positively to fundraising asks made by a familiar face, meaning that it’s important to establish several touchpoints before soliciting.
  • Look for additional funding opportunities. Solicitors don’t have to stick to asking for major gifts from donors. They can also look for other avenues for gaining funding or reducing costs. For example, they might find a local business owner who is willing to sponsor your next event or provide in-kind donations.

Because the role Solicitors play in the fundraising process is important to securing funds, it’s essential to choose board members whose skills align closely with the role. Look for board members who are knowledgeable about your purpose, know what donations will achieve, can “sell” your nonprofit organization, and can smoothly navigate questions and concerns.


The Steward helps nurture your donor relationships. By cultivating deep connections with donors and consistently expressing your gratitude and appreciation, Stewards help you promote long-term support from donors.

Involving board members in your existing stewarding process can make the process feel more genuine and personal. Assign Stewards to a handful of donors and ask them to make personal phone calls, send emails, and write letters expressing your gratitude.

Board members who fit the role of Steward should be trustworthy, friendly, and passionate about your purpose. Make sure they are comfortable speaking one-on-one with donors, have strong writing skills, and are knowledgeable about your programs.

To engage and activate your board, develop a clear vision of what you want your board members to do and give them the tools they need to meet those expectations. In addition to reaching out to prospects and thanking major donors, there are other ways that your board members can support fundraising. From pro bono work to procuring auction items for events, rely on your board to help grow your nonprofit organization and further your purpose.

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