One of the three primary functions of a nonprofit board is to secure the necessary resources.
Yes, that means fundraising!
I understand that the idea of getting your board members to fundraise can be frustrating.
Many board members don’t help with fundraising because the simply don’t know what to do.
Having served in an executive capacity for over 20 years there were five effective ways I discovered to encourage board members to participate in fundraising.
1. Commit 15 minutes per board meeting to a generative question around fundraising.
This is a way for a board to examine an issue or an idea by generating more information about it: identifying the problem instead of solving it; generating questions instead of answers; and making sense before making any decisions.
So, for fundraising, you might ask a question like, “how do other organizations engage their board members with fundraising?”
This will help you learn if they’ve served on other boards and give you the opportunity to garner what they have learned or experienced at those organizations.
Don’t make the mistake of rushing to fill the silence if board members don’t respond to the question right away. Give them time. Let them process. Remember this is brainstorming and you need to hear from as many board members as possible.
Other generative fundraising questions to consider:
- List 5 reasons why someone wouldn’t want to be a donor. As a group, brainstorm how to overcome these objections.
- Five years from today, what will this organization’s key constituents consider the most important legacy? of the current board?
- What’s one of the biggest obstacles preventing someone from giving?
2. Host a board orientation.
If your organization has never conducted an orientation, consider having every member of the board attend. In fact, some nonprofits host annual orientations for board members. The board orientation is 1-2 hours in length and should include:
· mission and vision statements
· organizational history
· bylaws and policies
· strategic plan
· financial summaries
· board expectation
· committee information and
· meeting processes
3. Plan an annual board retreat.
It is critical to host an annual board retreat. Retreats are great for team building, planning, and fundraising training.
Board retreats should not simply be longer versions of your normal board meeting. They should be very different from your regular board meetings and have a distinct feel and purpose.
You should focus on strategic planning at your retreat and how you expect to pay for the implementation of the plan
So, having a retreat to discuss both planning and fundraising is critical!
4. Meet with each board member personally.
Meeting as a group simply isn’t enough nor is sending an email. Nonprofit leaders, you must build a relationship with board members. Invest the time in sitting down with each board member once a year and get to know them better. Ask them:
- What do you love most about our organization and serving on our board?
- What are your biggest frustrations?
- How have you helped with fundraising in the past, at our nonprofit or other at organizations?
And most importantly, ask:
- How would you specifically like to help with fundraising? (Be sure to have a board commitment form with you or some examples of ways they can help.)
5. Engage 5 people 5 times a month.
Remember board members are volunteers who have full-time jobs. Hence, they are very busy! You must be clear in what is expected of them by your organization. Here are some very specific and concrete requests you can make to each board member that will require only about 15 minutes a month:
- Write 5 thank you notes — provide note cards, addresses, and sample text.
- Make 5 phone calls — again, provide scripts including what to say if they get a voice mail.
- Invite 5 people to our upcoming event — send them an email to forward to their friends. Ask them to include a personal line or two at the top. Again, provide sample text.
- Introduce 5 potential donors to the CEO or development office – send them an email to forward with the sample text as well as a phone script.
I hope this helps. Your feedback is appreciated. Leave a comment below on what else have you tried to engage your board members in fundraising? Sharing is caring.
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