10 Elements of an Outstanding Board Endorsement Letter

Man Writing Endorsement Checklist on Blackboard

Board endorsement letters are meant to be a third-party endorsement that a staff member and even the President of the organization cannot make. These letters are an unreserved third-person statement of the quality and integrity of the nonprofit.

Below are the 10 traits of an outstanding board endorsement letter:

  1. It goes right to the decision-maker.
  2. It is from a respected leader for your nonprofit, a peer of the prospect.
  3. It is in the board member’s voice, not that of your President, chief fundraiser, or an academic or policy wonk.
  4. It is succinct and to the point.
  5. It is mindful of the prospect’s perspective.
  6. It states the urgent, critical threat and/or opportunity in clear, direct terms.
  7. It spells out the board member’s personal beliefs about why your nonprofit offers the best solution to impact the opportunity or threat—the personal endorsement of your nonprofit’s capacity and competency.
  8. It clearly states that the board member has made a significant gift. If it is appropriate, it can even note the specific amount.
  9. It invites the prospect to directly contact the board member, including email and cell phone number.
  10. It does not ask—it has to endorse. In the endorsement, it is strongly encouraging the prospect to make the major gift.

A development officer can help a board member with this process by providing bullet points, but the board member should make the first draft and then have the staff review it. This helps to keep it simple and in the board member’s tone.

Yes, for those of you thinking about this, a board endorsement can be done in person or over the phone. The best practices are the same.

Highly successful fundraisers utilize solid leadership and management skills and engage their generous board members to “endorse” their nonprofit to other major gift prospects. Implement board endorsement letters today to increase your board members’ engagement in fundraising activities.

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