Monday, May 5, 2014

How to Get Your Board on the Fundraising Bandwagon

Do your Board members leave the room when you start talking about planning the annual fundraising campaign? Do they agree to ask folks for money but never follow through? Here are a few tips to help get them on the fundraising bandwagon:

  1. Make their board experience great: Board members volunteer because they want to make a difference doing work that matters. Structure meetings to focus on the impact of your organizational work by minimizing reporting and maximizing meaningful discussion. Make sure they know your mission, and communicate how fundraising relates to that mission. Be sure to encourage socializing, schmoozing, joking - people who laugh together work well together.
  2. Set clear expectations: Your Board job description and your recruitment process should make it clear that fundraising is a core Board responsibility. This includes making a significant gift, working as a team with staff on campaigns, developing and implementing a fundraising calendar, and identifying and soliciting donors.
  3. Ditch the standing committee: I'm betting not many of your Board members eagerly volunteer to serve on your Fundraising Committee. And who can blame them for dodging a commitment to work that will never end? Instead, break your fundraising up into bite-sized pieces, using ad hoc task forces with defined goals and a timeline of 3-6 months.
  4. Emphasize specific outcomes and results: Focus your Board's work on the results they need to accomplish to further their organizational work. Set feasible fundraising campaign goals - success is a great motivator. Emphasize that the outcome of asking for donations is not just money; it's also about public outreach as well as building relationships with donors.
  5. Show them all the many ways they can help out with fundraising: This runs the gamut from making asks to recruiting new Board members to writing thank you letters to using their social media networks to promote your organization.
  6. Train them to fundraise (and do it annually): It's a skill that can be learned! Help them overcome their fears and use their authentic passion for the organization to invite their friends and connections to support your organization. Educate them about the most effective strategies. Get Board members to tell personal stories about your organization's work and use those stories as a basis for connecting with donors.
  7. Pair them up: Fundraising doesn't have to be a solitary sport. Pair Board members up with fundraising mentors, and create a buddy system for making asks.
  8. Support them: Have your staff follow-up regularly - not to nag, but to encourage and support. Use phone calls, emails, and meetings to motivate your team and gently keep them on task raising money for your nonprofit.
  9. Reward and thank them:  Don't forget to thank your Board members for their work! Simple thank you gestures - cards, phone calls, a celebratory cake - really make a difference. Everyone feels better, happier and more willing to keep on fundraising when their efforts are appreciated.

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