What does it take to get the full board supporting fundraising?
Board members are well known for their nervousness about fundraising.
I’ve worked with thousands of board members over the years in my retreats and workshops.
On the whole, they are smart, well-meaning people who really want to help. Many are deeply committed and enthusiastic.
Here’s what I’ve learned in my experience with board members:
- Most board members really don’t understand what we do and how we do it.
- Many are quite interested to learn more about fundraising.
- Many don’t understand how to invest in fundraising in order to raise even more money.
There’s a disconnect between board members’ enthusiasm and their engagement in fundraising.
Many smart fundraisers have lots of complaints about their boards:
“Board members will offer to help open doors to their network, or make calls. But then they back off.
“They’ll say to us – ‘You do it! We’re off the hook because we delegated to you.’
“They think all we do is go out there and ask for money.
“They don’t understand everything else that goes into preparing for the ask.
“They’ll hire smart fundraising professionals. But they won’t give us adequate support – while expecting miracles.
“They insist on fundraising events that bleed everyone dry.
“They’ll cut fundraising expenses and resources in order to balance the budget. But then they still expect increased fundraising returns. (!!)
“They won’t make their own generous gifts each year.
“They’ll ask our staffers to take on more and more. With no more pay.
“They won’t give our most talented fundraiser (who brings in millions) a raise, so she leaves to make $5k more a year. Then they are surprised when fundraising results go down.
“They don’t understand that investing more in fundraising will result in raising exponentially more money.
“They will try to direct the fundraising strategy – based on what they like or don’t like personally.
So what’s the solution?
These well-meaning board members are are legally responsible for your organization. They’re making budgeting decisions, and helping to approve fundraising strategies.
But in my view, they need education and gentle direction.
Let’s help them make SMART decisions about fundraising. Let’s help them learn how they can help.
What board members need most of all is to LEARN more about how fundraising works.
Let’s educate our board members.
They need to understand what we do, and what we don’t do.
They need to learn how various fundraising strategies work, and how investments in fundraising bring a return.
They need to learn why they need to give generously.
And they need to learn how they can help support fundraising.
But it’s more than asking them to just make calls on donors.
When they understand that major gifts require a gentle approach that’s not about money – they are usually happy to help.
They need to help by supporting our fundraising plan, and supporting the fundraising team.
They need to understand how to build a culture of philanthropy at your organization.
When board members understand how fundraising works, they usually are ready to dive in!
It’s just a matter of showing them that it’s not all about asking. That there’s a lot of fun stuff that happens in fundraising – things they can do that can help you so much.
Let’s get your full board supporting fundraising!
Can you help me? Let’s get YOUR board supporting fundraising!
I’m creating – right now – a simple video-based training course for board members on fundraising.
Something that will help them LEARN what they need to know about fundraising, so they can take action.
Here’s my tentative title (do you like it?) Board Member’s Guide To Fundraising: 10 Rules For Fundraising Success Every Board Member Must Know.
So here’s my request of you today. What do YOUR board members need to know?
What should be in this new fundraising training program for board members?
If YOU could create 10 fairly short videos for board members to help them learn how fundraising really works and how they can help you, what would you include?
Could you please answer this quick 3-minute survey, and share what YOU think should be in this course?
Leave me a comment and let me know – I’d really appreciate it!