Guides & Resources

Dear Board Member: How to be a Joyful Advocate

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joyful board member

Dear New Board Member,

Welcome to the Board of Trustees! As laid out in your Roles & Responsibilities Agreement that you sign each year, one of your very important jobs as a board member is to help us raise the funding we need to continue our programs.

Many people tense up when they think about asking (or giving) money. But we want to assure you that soliciting support on behalf of our organization is nothing to fear! In fact, we hope that you are happy to do it because you are committed to our mission and you are a joyful advocate. Joyful advocates make the best ambassadors and the best fundraisers.  

So, what is a joyful advocate? A joyful advocate is someone who is well-equipped with the knowledge that the organization they love is run well and does good work. As a board member, you get to help make the decisions that help us run efficiently and transparently. You also get the benefit of hearing results and good news stories on a regular basis. When you put that all together—believing in our mission, knowing the organization runs well, and hearing our success—we hope you are deeply invested in the organization, happily. It should be a great joy to share with your family and friends that you get to work with a group that quite literally changes lives. 

And part of being invested in the organization means investing! We ask that you invest your time (volunteering), talent (sharing your knowledge), ties (introducing us to your network) and treasure (donating). Each of our board members are called to give or get a certain amount each year, and if that comes from a “get,” each board member is asked to additionally give a gift that is personally significant. Sometimes, we do not put a dollar amount on what is “personally significant” because each person’s circumstance is different. However, we do ask that you make an honest effort to give meaningfully. Every board member must give a gift each year, regardless of amount, because several foundations will not fund our organization if we do not have 100 percent board giving. Why should they give if our dearest friends aren’t giving?

Another aspect is helping us solicit support. Again, we hope that you do not fear this task. When you ask, you’re not asking for yourself, but for Maria, a trafficking victim; Alan, a homeless veteran; Rover, an abandoned dog; or Aiden, a student with cancer. When you recall our mission and the joy this organization brings you, spreading the word and asking support should not be daunting. Often, people feel as if fundraisers are beggars, yet we like to look at it as an even exchange. Donors give us funds; we give them the opportunity to change lives and make the world more just.  

The same goes for your time as a board member. While we ask for your time, talent, ties, and treasure, we believe that being a part of this organization offers you something in return—perhaps the prestige of sitting on a board, networking opportunities, a chance to give back to the community, or an opportunity to learn new skills that interest you. Whatever it is, we believe that we can provide value to you in exchange for your valuable T’s.  

So, let’s go over some of our fundraising initiatives and goals! As we talk through these, please think about where you see yourself giving and about which campaigns you can help us to spread the word.

Thank you in advance for your joyful advocacy.


Every Development Director (Ever)

Jaclyn Kramer is the development director at Volunteer Lawyers for Justice, a civil legal services organization in Newark, N.J. She has worked in development for ten years with positions at Covenant House International, Human Rights First, New York Institute of Technology, the National Multiple Sclerosis Society and the West Point Association of Graduates. Jaclyn is a member of AFP and the Association of Professional Researchers for Advancement (APRA).

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