Can you guess the number one complaint I hear from executive directors and development directors?
Their top complaint is that their board members are not helping with fundraising.
How about you? Do you have board members who just won’t fundraise?
If yes, the question is, why? Have you included fundraising as part of their board member job description? Have you provided them with adequate training? Have you given them the proper tools to fundraise effectively?
Why People Don’t Like to Fundraise
It is important to understand that when most people say they don’t want to fundraise, what they are referring to is the actual “asking.” They either believe that they will be asking strangers for money or begging their friends for donations. Neither belief is correct, so we need to dispel the myths and provide better education and training about fundraising.
The fact is, some people are never going to be comfortable with the concept of fundraising, no matter how well you’ve trained them. Others need to be introduced gradually to the process of fundraising.
Get Your Board Members to Help Fundraise Without Ever “Asking”
Below is a list of eight ways your board members can get involved with fundraising without ever asking for money.
1. Thank Donors
Thanking donors is probably the number one way to involve board members in fundraising without having them feeling like they are fundraising. They can make thank you calls, sign thank you letters, thank people in person and send thank you emails.
2. Open Doors
Opening doors means introducing friends, colleagues and family members to an organization you care deeply about. It often involves scheduling/ coordinating meetings between the executive director and an acquaintance who might be interested in the organization.
3. Sign Letters
Board members can sign (and add personal notes) to thank you letters, appeal letters, newsletters, and any other mailing coming from the organization.
4. Forward Emails
Whether it is an appeal, newsletter, or event information, it is super easy for board members to forward emails to their email list. Emails are more likely to be opened and read if coming from someone you know, rather than directly from the organization.
5. Bring Guests
It is important that board members bring guests to your fundraising and non-fundraising events. Whether or not the board member pays for their guests is up to them. By bringing new guests to each event, your board members help introduce your organization to a wide circle of potential supporters.
6. Lead Tours
Giving tours of your organization is a great activity for a board member. It gets them more involved and forces them to have a better understanding of each aspect of your program. Encourage them to bring their friends and colleagues for the tour.
7. Host Receptions
Board members should be asked to host receptions in their home every few years. Receptions serve as cultivation events, and no money is solicited or collected. They can invite their friends only or invite other board members’ friends as well.
8. Research and Write Grants
While this is usually done by staff, if your organization is small and understaffed, a board member can help with researching and writing grants.
All of the above activities are part of the fundraising process. While not directly asking for money, they help identify, cultivate, and steward donors, which are all critical to success in fundraising.
Start Small and Manageable
If your board members are not currently involved with fundraising, pick two or three things from this list to start with this year. Don’t try everything at once. Feel free to show this list to your board and ask each one to pick one way that s/he would like to get involved.
What other ways do you get your board members involved with fundraising? I’d love to hear from you in the comments.