Downtown FUNDRAISING Minute:  The Board Contract

Main Street Boards have fundraising responsibilities because one of their major fiduciary responsibilities is to secure adequate funds to operate the organization according to its mission.

Recently I worked with a fairly new Main Street Board.  All of the members were pillars of the community, and highly involved with other organizations in town.  These board members were handpicked by the Village president because they had good skills, were well-known in the community and cared about the downtown.  However, one small detail seemed to slip from the initial conversation about board membership.  No one told these board members that they would have to give their own gifts to the organization, or help with fundraising.  I think it was an honest mistake, a sin of omission, rather than one of commission.

But now, nine months later, the organization is really hurting for cash.  They must scramble to start an annual gifts/membership program and give money themselves.  And quickly, too.

Everyone starts a downtown organization with the best of intentions.  If the organizers understood their fundraising role, then they would perhaps have recruited different people, who are comfortable with “the Ask.”  Until then, we can rely on Board contracts.  These are documents that are signed by Board members each year that itemize the various responsibilities of a Board member. These contracts make it unmistakably clear that everyone gives a cash gift and participates in fundraising.  Here is a great board contract to look at.