Fundraising is often a huge pain point with many nonprofit board members.
And it’s a pain point for many fundraising staff members too. Staffers all want to know “how to get their board members to help raise money.”
But board members are coming from a completely different place:
- They don’t really understand how fundraising works.
- They fear fundraising (who wouldn’t!)
- They really don’t want to “monetize” their friends.
And I don’t blame board members one bit!
Of course they are nervous about this process called “fundraising.”
If you think it’s all about asking for money, and if you worry about “hitting up” your friends, why on earth would you want to get involved in fundraising?
I think we have a wonderful opportunity to help board members understand more about how fundraising really works today.
They are making decisions about fundraising strategy all the time. I would think it’s in everybody’s best interest for them to understand the strategies and concepts that make for successful fundraising.
I find that many board members are really interested to LEARN about fundraising.
They want to know how it works, and they want to know how they can help.
But – I caution you – don’t bring board members into a training called “The Art of the Ask!”
Instead introduce them to fundraising as an important revenue-generating strategy that all can embrace. Something that everybody can participate in. Whether they are asking for money or not.
Most of all, I think we need to start board members off slowly.
I think we think we also need to BACK OFF when it comes to “asking for money.”
They ARE willing to help. So let’s ask them to help in jobs that SUPPORT fundraising – ones that are not specifically about soliciting. There are plenty of NO ASK fundraising strategies that have important roles for board members.
Here’s how to help get board members fired-up, in action and ready to help.
And I absolutely promise you, this works! Board members love this approach. They think it’s fun. I work with boards all over the world helping them understand fundraising and how they can help make it successful for their favorite organization. And this approach gets terrific feedback.
Here’s how you can take board members from fear of fundraising to enthusiasm.
I believe in activating people’s passion and energy first.
And you have to lighten up. Make it fun for them. You need to fan the flames of emotion and energy.
It’s emotion that propels action.
(How much emotion is there in a business meeting run by Roberts Rules?
Try motivating your volunteers rather than lecturing to them.
It really doesn’t work to treat them like fourth graders. Try treating them more like a sales team that needs pumping up all the time.
1. Reawaken their passion for the cause.
Help board members get back in touch with why they care –why they wanted to serve on the board in the first place.
They won’t lift a finger for you unless they are fired up about the cause itself. You need to help them re-awaken that pull in the heart that caused them to get involved in the first place.
Ask them why they care enough to serve on the board.
That’s my absolute favorite way to re-awaken their passion for their favorite cause. Better yet, ask them what legacy they want to leave from serving on the board.
If you can get them talking, then you can make it happen. You’ve got to let go and let your volunteers do the talking.
2. Give them practice with their elevator speech.
They need help learning how to talk about the cause. And I mean real world practice, not role plays in front of the group. Help your volunteers create their own, personal elevator speech.
Don’t create a “master” elevator pitch and have everybody learn it. Because they’ll forget it. Instead let each board member craft their own speech based on why they personally care. Here’s how to set up this exercise.
Make it fun and make it informal.
Ask them to go around the room mingling with other board members and share why they care. Or work as a group to come up with some great facts to share about your organization.
That would be a fun discussion for your board.
3. Help them understand what you are really raising money for.
Where does the money go? How many people do you help? How much does all that cost? How much does each program cost and why?
What could you do if you had an extra $100k? What DO we need? WHY do we need it? Who’s impacted by it?
How, I mean really, HOW, exactly do we change and save lives with this money we are raising?
Make this a question and answer DISCUSSION.
Make it informal so that all board members can get into the thinking process.
When board members have these three discussions, they are ready to rock.
1. In touch with their own passion and energy,
2. Equipped to talk about it,
3. Know how much you need and why you need it.
Sometimes you can’t even stop them. I’m continually amazed at the energy, creativity and strategies that board members come up with when we do these exercises.
I’d love to help you fire-up your own board. Or try this approach on your own. But you CAN awaken your board’s energy and put them to work. You can stage a board retreat that will be transformational – and that they will really enjoy.
How much could you raise if your board members were fully active in fundraising?
Try these techniques and make it happen for YOUR board!