The minute the words came out of my board member’s mouth I saw my development director roll her eyes. My board member thought she was being helpful. She suggested we could reach our fundraising goal if we “just asked Oprah.” Sure. I’ve got her on speed dial, right? The room was so quiet you could hear a pin drop. That is, until the chorus of other board members chimed in with “great idea” and “let’s do that”. Someone had to be the wet blanket and tell the board the truth: we don’t have access to Oprah.
The “go ask Oprah” fundraising strategy is a lot of magical thinking. One mega celebrity will not solve all your fundraising problems. When it comes to fundraising, there’s no silver bullet. The good news is it only takes smart committed people who care about your cause. People just like…your board members!
Board members can feel a lot of fear and anxiety about fundraising. Maybe they’ve never done it before. The truth is there are lots of ways that board members can step up to the fundraising plate with confidence. Today I’m giving you 6 ways to get them engaged in fundraising. The bonus part? They don’t include a making an ask!
Make their own gift.
Hello! The first task is to give personally. You can’t invite anyone else to ask if you haven’t done it yourself. Bottom line: EVERY board member should be a current and generous donor to your organization. The amount they give should be significant to them based on their capacity. Wealthier board members can and should give more but everyone should make a gift that is meaningful to them.
Call donors to thank them.
Think this doesn’t have an impact? Think again! In one study by Penelope Burk donors receiving a thank you call from a board member within 24 hours of making their gift gave 39% more. Fourteen months later those same donors were giving 42% more than donors who didn’t get the call and they had a 70% retention rate. Set your board members up for success! Give them sample thank you sentences, background on the donor, details on their gift and sample discovery questions they can ask to learn more about them.
Name your organization in their will.
I ask this question a lot and I’m always surprised at how rarely board members are invited to name the organization in their will or estate. Not only is this a golden opportunity for them to give, it opens the door for them to tell other donors and prospects about the gift they made!
Invite 10 of their key contacts to a private tour of the organization.
Imagine the circles your board has. Professional contacts, vendors, personal contacts, contacts from their kid’s school, contacts from their church, the opportunities are endless! Challenge them to identify 1 or 2 prospects from each circle.
Host an intimate cultivation event in their home.
This is a great opportunity to give board members a natural way to mix and mingle with donors. Don’t skip on the program – you want a client share their personal story of how the organization touched their life. Download this Donor Cultivation Event Cheat Sheet to help you plan an unforgettable experience! If you’ve never tried a Jeffersonian Dinner consider hosting one. They offer a unique format to give your guests a memorable night and quickly advance rapport.
Get assigned 2-3 donors to cultivate.
Cultivation is key AND it sets up the next ask. Board members can regularly and personally call the donors to update them on how their gift is making an impact. I recommend assigning no more than 3 donors to each board member. Three is a realistic number for them to handle at a time.
Recruiting and managing a leadership team made of just volunteers is a lot of hard work! Download my guide, “Makeover My Board” for more tips to help your board survive and thrive. It’s loaded with tips for recruitment, onboarding, managing up and even ho to create graceful exits for board members who need to go.