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Unleash Your Board Members’ Energy for Fundraising

 

Mention fundraising to board members and you get this look back!

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.

Board members love to talk about WHY they care.

Board members love to talk about WHY they care.

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.

This is what good fundraising training looks like!

This is what good fundraising training looks like!

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.

Fire-up your board members and you’ll unleash incredible energy!

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.

Give board members practice with their elevator speech.

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?

You can have a deep discussion around “what are we raising money for?”

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.

See “What’s the Math: Three Questions Board Members Really Need to Know.”

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.

They are:

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!

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  • http://twitter.com/ggfundraise Richard Freedlund

    I think it is funny that even though we are on opposite coasts, we are so much on the same wavelength. Your advice is spot on. Too bad you weren’t available for this week’s #fundchat conversation. That was the topic.

  • gailperry

    I KNOW! I really wish I could have joined the #fundchat. I’ll have to get hold of the transcript and read it – know I would enjoy it!

  • Robin Doeden

    I agree 100% with your suggestion to get board members reaquainted with why they are on the board. Over the past few weeks I have been asking this questions, and creating conversations between board members about, “why did you join the board?” and “Why do you care enough to keep coming back?” The answers have been amazing! We are even working on our elevator speeches, but not in terms of facts and statistics. Rather, I want each of them to have their personal story – I’m paid to recite the facts and figures! Just last week I had a board member stop in to thank me for having these conversations. Her hairdresser had asked her what she had been up to and it had turned into a full conversation about the Foundation, giving back to the community and volunteering. She was excited and I was thrilled! Thanks for the great advice and encouragement, Gail!

  • gailperry

    Hi Robin, terrific that you are focusing your board members on their personal stories and their elevator speeches. So glad you are empowering them to be “sneezers” spreading the viral message of your great work!