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How to convince your board to invest in fundraising: 4 tips

May 09, 2021
Fundraising is crucial for your nonprofit’s success, but it can be costly. Here are the top strategies for convincing your board to invest in fundraising.

Securing board buy-in for investing in fundraising initiatives and tools is an essential, yet challenging, task. Nonprofit organizations, regardless of their size or focus area, often grapple with this challenge. The board, crucial to an organization’s success, is responsible for overseeing its strategic direction, ensuring its financial health, and supporting its fundraising efforts. However, convincing them to invest in fundraising tools—such as advanced donor databases, professional development for the fundraising team, or innovative fundraising programs—often proves to be a hurdle. 

Part of the challenge lies in the fact that results from such investments are not immediately tangible. The return on investment for fundraising tools, for instance, may take a year or more to be seen, making it difficult for board members to calculate the direct impact. Similarly, investing in fundraising capacity, such as staff development or fundraising consultants, requires an upfront financial commitment that does not pay off immediately. 

However, the opportunities that come with increased investment in fundraising are substantial. It’s just up to you nonprofit to present these benefits in an appealing manner to your board. Use the following tips to highlight the value of investing in fundraising.

Why invest in fundraising?

Greater fundraising capacity can lead to more significant donor engagement, higher donor retention rates, and ultimately, increased funds for the organization’s purpose. Advanced fundraising tools can streamline operations, improve data management, and facilitate more personalized and effective donor communications. 

Studies demonstrate these benefits as well. Two specific reference points may be helpful in highlighting value: 

  • Across all institution types, the return on investment in 2018 was 942.9 percent. In general, higher investment yields higher returns. (CASE
  • A Giving USA study found that a dollar invested in a major gift program produces, on average, $24 in revenue. A dollar invested in a direct mail program produces $10. A dollar invested in a special event produces $3.20. (Harvard Business Review

How to secure your board’s buy-in

Given these potential benefits, the question becomes: how can nonprofit professionals effectively convince their boards to make these investments?  

First and foremost, it’s important to remember that we’re not able to convince anyone of something that they are completely opposed to. However, we are able to help move people to agreement if we follow proven frameworks for change management and persuasion. Nonprofit professionals can learn these effective strategies to secure board buy-in for critical fundraising investments: 

1. Understand your board 

Begin with understanding your board members—their motivations, their concerns, and how they conceptualize investment in fundraising. Recognize that your board comprises individuals with diverse backgrounds, lived experiences, and unique perspectives.  

2. Create a strong value proposition for fundraising investments

Once you understand your board’s motivations, it’s time to craft a compelling value proposition. The value proposition should align with both the organization’s purpose and the board’s motivations. It’s about making the board see how investing in fundraising can deliver value, whether in terms of increasing efficiency, growing donor retention, or advancing the organization’s purpose.  

3. Handle objections with confidence and grace

Objections are an expected part of the decision-making process. Prepare for potential objections, and address them confidently and respectfully with counteroffers. Speak with confidence and use concrete language. Finally, remember that validating the other person’s viewpoint can open up a more constructive conversation, so you should listen as much as you speak. 

4. Cite case studies and examples

Sharing case studies of successful instances of securing board buy-in can be extremely persuasive. Demonstrating proven methods and results provides tangible evidence of the potential impact of investing in fundraising. 

Engaging your board in fundraising: An ongoing conversation

Securing board buy-in is not a one-off task but an ongoing conversation. By understanding your board, crafting a strong value proposition, effectively using rhetorical strategies, and handling objections with confidence, you can empower your board to catalyze fundraising growth.


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