6 NO ASK Fundraising Strategies for Board Members

NO ASK fundraising strategies? What can I possibly mean?

If  your board members flee when they are asked to help in fundraising, you need a new approach and some new ideas.

So here is a wildly different approach to try:

Tell them they DON’T have to ASK if they don’t want to.

Let’s find some practical, easy ways your board members can help in fundraising, without soliciting.

They can open doors, and help you find new friends and donors – without having to solicit.

Here are my favorite six ways to use board members in fundraising, without soliciting. It’s just the start of a long list of productive jobs they can to to raise friends, thank donors and help create a sustainable fundraising effort.


We need to capitalize on our board members’ personal social networks to further our organization’s urgent work solving community problems. So the job is clear: we have to ask our board members to introduce our organization to everybody they know.

Your board members need to be roaring advocates for your organization; they need to talk about it wherever they go.

They should be all over their friends, telling them why it matters and urging them to get involved.

Actually, you want your board members to start an epidemic—of good news about your cause that will spread through your community.

Make Your Board Members into “Sneezers

I teach board members how to be sneezers – spreading the idea virus and conveying excitement about our cause everywhere.


Who are the important people who could catapult your organization’s future? I call them VIPs–for Very Important Prospects.

These individuals may be civic, political, philanthropic, religious, corporate, or social leaders in your community. They may also be among your current donors or on your prospect list.

Let’s start our board members on a strategy that I call “The VIP Prospect Game.”

It’s a seamless, easy, polite way to get your board members talking about WHO THEY KNOW and HOW THEY CAN GET THE DOOR OPEN. And this can be a tough conversation to pull off with them, as we all know.

Here’s how to start them working on major donor strategies – where they SHOULD be focused. We’ll talk more about the VIP Prospect Game in my webinar on Thursday.


You can expand your community relationships and make friends fast through gatherings such as Small Socials. This job is perfect for social board members who have many friends and like to socialize.

A Small Social can take several formats. It can be a coffee, a tea, dinner, a porch party, a cookout, or cocktails. It can be breakfast meetings or luncheons. It can include 3 people or 100.

When in doubt, throw a party!

Follow these rules for a successful Small Social:

1. A board member or volunteer invites people and hosts it.

2. There is no charge.

3. It is a cultivation event designed to fire up people about your cause.

4. A plan is in place for following up after the event.

If you don’t have a follow-up plan, don’t do the event at all.

Small Socials always have a short presentation in the midst of the socializing. The board volunteer host should welcome everyone, and the CEO gives a short high-impact message with a clear call to action at the end.


Board members can host tours to bring prospective friends closer to your organization.

A carefully scripted tour can be a powerful way to demonstrate your organization’s good work and to illustrate unmet needs in the community.

The tour lets your work speak for itself.

Your guests will hear staff members or even clients/students/stakeholders express in their own words their personal first-hand experiences with your organization’s mission— and the good it does—in the community.

A well-planned tour also has the board volunteer’s welcome, the CEO’s visionary message, and the same followup plan.


We all know that within our board members’ social networks there is a gold mine of potential friends and donors. But they usually are not sure how to open the door to their contacts without seeming pushy.

But they can ask their friends for advice, guidance and counsel about their favorite project. And they can do it in person.

“If you want money, ask for advice. If you want advice, then ask for money.”

You’re really having a treasure hunt, because when you get together personally with someone for an exploratory conversation, you are not certain what you will find. But you always end up making a friend for your cause.

People are usually flattered when someone approaches them just to ask for advice. You would be surprised at the number of doors that would open if you just ask for advice.

You can read more about Advice Visits in these blog posts:



One of the most powerful actions a board member can take is to phone to thank a donor soon after his or her gift is received.

When board members call to thank donors, the donors receive a very powerful message. They think: “This organization appreciates me,” “I am a real person to this organization, not just a checkbook,” “This organization is well run.”

Donors who receive phone calls from board members invariably tend to give larger gifts the next time and tend to stay on board as donors longer.

Some studies have shown that donors who were called by board members within 24 hours of making a gift later made subsequent gifts that were 39 percent higher than donors who did not receive a call.

This means that board members can directly improve your organization’s bottom line without having to solicit!

Read more about Thank You Calls to Donors:



Every board member can support your organization’s fundraising!   There is a fundraising role for each person on your board – whether they ask or not.

And if you are enjoying these posts, do forward them along to a colleague or board member who might find them helpful.

Leave a comment and share YOUR favorite ways to put your board members to work. Let’s create a long list!