The Number One Way to Get Your Board Members to Follow Through

iStock_000006450448XSmallSo many nonprofit board members are enthusiastic and well-meaning but too often they back out of their commitments. Bet you have run into this problem! And I have been on the other side too, as a board member. In the heat of an exciting discussion, I suddenly found myself making personal commitments. Then later, in my office, I thought better of those ideas and was not so very enthusiastic about them. In nonprofit organizations, it's hard working with volunteers, who actually don't HAVE to do anything anyway. You simply can't MAKE volunteers work. That's why I always say that we are in the motivation business. You have to be able to motivate and charge up your board members and volunteers if you want them to be productive. It's a rare nonprofit volunteer who can keep herself fully pumped up with excitement and enthusaism all the time! Here's my secret weapon in motivating my volunteer committees. And it's an old standby of teamwork and leadership theory: PEER PRESSURE. Here's the most important thing to know about board members: they never, repeat, never want to look bad in front of their peers.

After You've Asked for the Gift, What Next?


So you've popped the question to your donor. You've said "We were hoping that you would consider a gift of $XXX to make something wonderful happen."

The Moment of Truth Now, what's next? Did you know that the next person who speaks loses? You've got to allow your donor plenty of time to think it over. The donor is mulling, mulling, not saying anything. And there you sit! Nervous - and as jumpy - as a frog in a frying pan. I know, the urge to start babbling is strong, mighty strong! But KEEP YOUR COOL! The donor may take as long as a full minute to think this over. He or she is considering lots of issues: can I make this gift?' do I really want to make this contribution?; if I donate money to this cause, will they spend it wisely?; what is my cash flow?; can I sell some stock?; can I ask other family members to go in with me?; what's the timing of all this; do I really believe in this project?

Boards gone wild!

I am teaching today in Greensboro, NC at the AFP CFRE Review Course and the AFP First Course in Fundraising. As usual, they have me talking about managing and motivating volunteers and board members. In my last class, we had such a laugh over "Boards Gone Wild." What do I mean? A Board Gone Wild is a well-meaning group of volunteers who gallop off in the wrong direction. It's the wrong direction because the plan or project they are espousing is not well-planned, not well-thought out, has unintended negative consequences, and cannot be pulled off with the current staff and human resources on hand.

Try a "zero-based committee structure"

Wow, what a great idea! A zero-based committee structure - just like zero-based budgeting. This idea means that every year (or two at the minimum), the nonprofit's board disbands its committees. It goes back to the drawing board and re-evaluates what it needs. All the current committees are eliminated. And the board decides, based on its current needs and plans, what committees it will need for the next year or two. The board then starts over with a clean slate of committees.

Thank you - Almost there!

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