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Engaging Your Board In Year-End Fundraising

It was a pleasure to join so many awesome nonprofit professionals on October 27, 2021 to speak with you about engaging your board in fundraising, and how that can tie end to your year-end giving campaigns. Here’s a quick recap of what we talked about:

1. Debunking the common reasons that Board Members don’t want to fundraise:

It is uncomfortable to ask people for money – You don’t have to ask people for money.

I give a lot of money to the organization – Then you have a lot of leverage to encourage others to give, as well!

I have another role on the Board – There are things that you can do to help raise money that take very little time and/or effort.

We have a Development Committee and/or Development Director – They will be instrumental in creating your organization’s fundraising strategy and might take on more in-depth roles than you will.  However, they are not the Fundraising Committee.  The whole Board of Directors is the fundraising committee.

2. Fundraising is not about asking people for money

We have let go of the idea that fundraising means begging people for money.  It is really about relationship building.  If someone becomes personally invested in your mission, then they are likely to become financially invested.

Don’t think of fundraising as going to people with your hand out.  Think of it as going in for the handshake.  Research shows that people with a deep connection to a mission will give more, and over a longer period of time.  They are also likely to become ambassadors for your mission, which will help you gain more donors!

At some point, someone is going to have to make an ask, but it doesn’t have to be you.  Hopefully, by the time a potential donor is asked, you will have done such a great job of cultivating their relationship with your nonprofit that the ask is a formality.

3. Fundraising is not one-size-fits-all

People are individuals.  Everyone has their own availability, comfort level, talents, and passions.  When we look at fundraising from this perspective, there is no limit to the ways people can participate.  Allow your board to choose those activities that speak to them, and they will be much more likely to carry out their commitments.

That being said, there are two things that every board member should do:  Engage with your organization on social media and talk about your organization!!  If you are passionate about your mission, and aren’t out in your community singing its praises, you are doing a disservice to your nonprofit.  Sing it from the rafters, folks!

Engaging Your Board In Year-End Fundraising

There were some questions that I didn’t get a chance to answer during our session, so I thought I would tackle a few of them now:

How about Staff members who don’t understand fundraising, and don’t want to help with these efforts?

I would approach your staff in the same way as the Board.  Figure out what they can contribute based on their availability, comfort level, talents, and passion.  It’s just a matter of figuring out what clicks for them on a personal level.

How do I provide capsule as part of operating instructions of fundraising options to board members of giving, getting or get off the board?        

Every organization should have a Board Fundraising Policy.  Once written, it should be brought before the Board for discussion and a vote.  Once the policy is passed, it can be presented to prospective Board Members before they commit to joining your Board so that they know what will be expected of them.  If they don’t want to do it, they won’t join the board.

It’s a good idea to include language that makes it clear that fundraising does not necessarily mean asking people for money.  It would also be helpful to include examples of activities Board Members can engage in so that they can better understand the culture that you are trying to cultivate.  I can provide a sample policy, if you’d like.

What are your thoughts on asking board members to raise &/or give a specific amount for year-end giving?   

I am not a huge fan of this.  Everyone on your board has a different financial situation and connections to different types of people.  You don’t want to make anyone feel “less than” because they are not able to give or get the same as someone else.  Perhaps instead, you can do a Board Match for your year-end campaign.  Have all of your Board Members confidentially send you the amount that they are willing to give.  Base your campaign around the fact that your board is going to match the next $(insert total here) your organization raises.  Your board can use this match as leverage with their friends and family, the community will see how dedicated they are to your mission, and everyone on the board feels good because they are all contributing to the match.

For more board engagement tips, check out my book, The Itty Bitty Book of Nonprofit Fundraising – Tips for Board Members from a Development Director who hates asking people for money.  Available on Amazon and Kindle!

Published: November 29, 2021

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