The Asian American Federation of Florida (AAFF) is a 501(c)(3) coalition that aims to unity and collaboration among the various Asian Pacific American organizations and to improve the relationship of a culturally diverse Asian Pacific American community in Florida. The AAFF is a statewide organization made up of more than 70 Bangladesh, Burmese, Cambodian, Chinese, Filipino, Indian, Iranian, Korean, Laotian, Taiwanese, Thai, Turkish and Vietnamese community-based organizations, businesses and media.


  1. To ensure sound planning and policies (write the mission and vision statements, make sure that programs accord with the mission).
  2. To ensure good management (evaluate, hire, and if necessary fire the CEO/Executive Director, review personnel policies)
  3. To ensure sound resources and financial dealings (assist with fundraising and public relations, guarantee financial accountability)
  4. To ensure compliance with legal requirements (file required papers and act as a trustee/fiduciary, comply with bylaws)
  5. To ensure good governance (conduct a periodic board self-evaluation, keep minutes, recruit new members, update bylaws as appropriate)

Being an effective board member means more than just showing up at meetings. It requires staying informed and asking difficult questions, participating in planning and policy making, ensuring a sound financial footing, and monitoring and evaluating the management and governance of the organization.


  1. To make a financial contribution to the extent of your capacity. Some board members can make only a token gift of $50 annually; others can give $5 million. Each of you should make a “stretch” gift every year, regardless of the specific amount. Other funders—particularly foundations and major donors—will consider making contributions only if everyone on the board has made a capacity gift. It is easier to ask for money if you have your money where your mouth is!
  2. To solicit contributions from your friends, relatives, and colleagues. The most important reason why a person makes his or her first contribution to a nonprofit organization is that the right person asks. You should be prepared to approach the individuals on your Christmas list on behalf of your organization. These approaches may be for a direct mail contribution, a seat to a special event, a major gift, or a planned gift. 
  3. To assist with recruiting new members to your board of directors who have the clout and connections to ensure the success of the fundraising effort. To achieve critical mass when it comes to fundraising, it must contain at least a few people of means who have the ability to make sizeable contributions and the desire to “put the arm” on friends and colleagues. Peer-to-peer fundraising is the name of the game.
  4. To oversee your organization’s fundraising efforts. As a board member, it is not your responsibility to write grant proposals or enter donor information in the database (unless there is no staff). You are responsible, however, for making sure that your organization is pursuing funds by every appropriate means. The board mandates preparation of a written fundraising plan and reviews fundraising activities periodically to ensure timely and comprehensive evaluation of the plan.


Prospective donors are likely to ask solicitors from the board if they have made a contribution themselves. The right answer? “Yes, and my gift was the largest I have ever made to a nonprofit organization”, or “Yes, and it was a real stretch, but that is how much this organization means to me”.


The most important tactical issue in fundraising is access.

We understand that not every board member has well-off friends and colleagues, but everyone knows folks who could make modest contributions. The folks whom you know will at the very least grant you audience or be willing to read a request letter to which you have appended a personal note. You must learn to overcome the fears that keep you from asking your intimates for contribution.



The annual campaign is carried out every year to raise funds for your organization’s general operating expenses and for particular projects. In fundraising, each activity should fit into an overall scheme. For example, the direct mail campaign that you conduct in August has a direct impact on the special event that you do in November and the telephone solicitation that you do in September. All are part of the annual campaign.

What you as a board member are “selling” when raising funds for the annual campaign is your love and excitement about your organization. Certainly, you should be armed with relevant statistics and good stories, but what closes the sale is your personal commitment to your organization’s goals and programs.



Fundraising is NOT going on bended knew to the donor, asking for the least possible amount of money. Fundraising is an investment in a successful community enterprise. A donor’s decision about whether to give and how much is no different from his or her decision to invest money in a corporate stock. When an individual “invests” in your organization, the “return” is the benefit your organization bestows upon the community.

In asking for a contribution to the nonprofit on whose board you serve, you are not asking for a personal favor or a loan. Rather, you are enthusiastic about the work of your organization that you want to give your friends the opportunity to participate in the life of the organization by making a contribution.

If you do appropriate donor research and approach prospects intelligently and respectfully, many people may say NO to your solicitations, but enough of them will say YES to make your efforts worthwhile. Remember: You are giving people the opportunity to feel good by helping an organization that is doing important work. We must not let feat and embarrassment about money get in the way.

As a board member who is raising funds for your organization, your job is to alert prospective donors to the marvelous work of your organization and to educate them about the positive impact their contribution will have on your good work. You must always be upbeat; uncertainty or diffidence about your mission or programs spells fundraising disaster.

Fundraising is a confidence game in the finest sense of the term. Your job as a fundraising board member is to instill confidence in the mind of the donor that there is a need to be addressed and that your organization is the perfect vehicle to meet that need.



  1. The satisfaction of helping an organization that is devoted to a cause about which the donor cares deeply
  2. The satisfaction of helping an organization that the donor knows is doing a great job
  3. The pleasure of responding positively to a friend or colleague who has made the solicitation
  4. The opportunity to invest in an enterprise that benefits the community
  5. The opportunity to be honored and celebrated for one’s generosity
  6. The opportunity, through a memorial gift, to honor someone whom the donor loved
  7. The opportunity to create a legacy that will last long after the donor’s passing
  8. The tax benefit


The most effective way to raise money is to make sure that the right solicitor asks the right prospect for a gift at the right dollar level at the right time. Like it or not, “who knows whom” is at least as important as what an organization is doing to benefit the world.

The organization MUST enlist all its board members, staff people, volunteers and other “organizational intimates” to solicit contributions from their friends, relatives and colleagues. This constitutes your organization’s initial hot list” Go after the folks you know first, and troll for interested strangers later.

Board members are not expected to do formal research on prospective donors. All you have to do is to give pertinent information about those friends and colleagues whom you intend to approach for contributions.
(Adapted from: “Boards That Love Fundraising: A How-To Guide for your Board”.  RM Zimmerman and AW Lehman, 2004)