How to Engage Board Members in Major Gift Fundraising in 2018

Are you wondering how to engage board members in major gift fundraising?

It’s a tall order. 

But alas, many shy away from all kinds of fundraising, particularly with major donors, because they’re nervous, or even terrified, about “asking.”

There ARE strategies you can use to wake them up, infuse some energy and enthusiasm in them, and actually get their help!

These 5 strategies can change everything. 

Follow these proven steps and you just may see new energy and enthusiasm for fundraising – I promise! 

Need help with YOUR board?

In my Major Gift Coaching program for 2018, you board members will get two live webinar trainings with me.

I’ll be taking their questions – so there will be plenty of interaction with Q and A time.

I’ll be on live video training board members in high level major gift fundraising skills and how they can help.

What would your life be like when your board members are enthusiastic and helpful with major gifts? Need I say more? 🙂

If you are ready to finally ramp up a a true major gift program at your organization, click the button on this page, and we’ll hop on the phone to see if it’s right for you and your nonprofit.

 How to Engage Board Members in Major Gift Fundraising 

First of all you have to acknowledge some realities about how many board members feel and where they are coming from. 

1. Board members are often reluctant to help in fundraising. 

Why? They don’t understand how we do it.

Board members often make up myths that fundraising is about selling and being pushy. As a result, they’re afraid they’ll be asked to “hit up” their friends.

Acknowledge reality and their very real feelings and attitudes. It’s all ok – it’s just human nature.

Takeaway: Be realistic. And meet them where they are. 

2. Many board members think that all fundraising equals  “asking.”

They think of fundraising as a transaction. Like selling something. 

They would probably be surprised to learn that so much of the fundraising process (particularly with major donors) is focused on engaging and developing an overall happy relationship – NOT on the ask.

Give board members the fun stuff to do first.

Get board members involved in other parts of the major gift fundraising cycle – identifying donors, hosting tours, coffees and porch parties.

And of course, thanking and stewarding donors after a big gift is perhaps the most fun of all. Especially when it leads up to the next, much bigger gift!

Takeaway: If you want to engage board members in fundraising for major gifts, don’t ask them to solicit – quite yet! 

3. Many board members are disengaged and a bit bored in general.

Let me say unequivocally, that if you have BORED board members, then they will not want to help with anything. 

One step further – if you have boring BOARD MEETINGS, then you’ll have bored board members.

If you want to engage your board in fundraising, you have to start by giving them a terrific experience as board members.

They will reward you by  getting more involved and working where you need them.

Takeaway: Give board members an interesting experience of simply serving on the board.

4. Most board members don’t understand how major gift fundraising works.

They are not familiar with our data, research, and proven methodologies.

Many board members don’t understand that major gifts are a long term process, and that there are many (fun) steps in cultivating a donor’s interest in your cause.

They don’t know that soliciting is only one small moment in a long cycle of cultivation and stewardship.

They are smart people. You’ll probably find that your board members are actually interested to learn new ideas. 

Takeaway: If you want to engage board members in fundraising, give them training and education in how fundraising really works.

5. Many board members think that fundraising is not fun.

Most of all, many board volunteers who are inexperienced in fundraising shy away because they think it’s distasteful.

But we all know that many fundraising activities are, in fact, organized around fun social occasions. And having thoughtful talks with donors one-on-one is fun too!

Board members don’t know about the fun side of fundraising – donor cultivation parties and events, fascinating conversations about your work, sharing stories about your wonderful impact.

Takeaway: If you want to engage board members in major gift fundraising – you need to lighten up.

Make it more fun for them. Give them positive social experiences with donors.

Take them on thank you visits. Help them tell their own story of why THEY care.

If you are heavy-handed about all this, they’ll probably run for the door! 🙂

Bottom Line: Engage board members in major gift fundraising. 

Bring them to my 2018 Major Gift Coaching training – and their eyes will be opened.

They’ll end up helping  you in all sorts of ways – finding new major gift prospects, hosting door opener events, hosting screening sessions, and volunteering to help make new contacts.

With that kind of help, you can change the world!