How to Unleash Your Board Members’ Energy for Fundraising

I had the pleasure of talking to the very smart and wonderful Michael Chatman yesterday on his popular live radio “Giving Show.”

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

We were talking about my favorite subject – how to get board members fired up and active in fundraising.

You can listen here to the 25 minute tape of the show.

I was amazed how many people tuned in.

Michael said it was because this topic is such a pain point with most nonprofit staff members.

People tweeting questions all wanted to know how to get their board members to help raise money.

Like most of my fundraising colleagues, when they ask board members to help, their trustees would get nervous and back off.

Here are my recommendations for getting your board members fired up, in action and ready to help.

And I absolutely promise you, this works!

My Fired-Up Fundraising System is based on some very important principles that can change everything.

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.

It’s emotion that propels action.

(How much emotion is there in a business meeting run by Roberts Rules?)

I’m all about the psychological and motivational side of dealing with volunteers.

Try motivating board members 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.

This exact set of strategies really does work. I refer to them in all my speeches, presentations, workshops, books and articles:

1.   Reawaken their passion for the cause.

Board members have got to 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 get them riled up.

Or, 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 them 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.

They need help creating 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?

Be careful: DON’T make this a presentation.

That will cause their eyes to glaze over and you’ll be left with the monkey on your back.

Instead make it a question and answer DISCUSSION.

Make it informal so that all board members can get into the thinking process.

Frankly, when I take board members through these three steps, I hardly need to do another thing.

When 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,

. . . then you hardly have to anything else, because they are ready to roll.

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.

This is what Fired-Up Fundraising is all about.

If you want to awaken your board’s energy and put them to work, I can help you with a board retreat that will be transformational – and that they will really enjoy.

One that is practical.

With material they can put right to use.

These exercises are just that – they are practical and experiential. And board members love this stuff!

Try these techniques and make it happen for YOUR board!