Welcome back to the Major Gifts Challenge! If you’re unfamiliar with the Challenge, check out the introductory video here.
Last week I discussed board member recruitment. You learned the importance of recruiting board members who understand the role they play in raising funds.
Recruiting a strong board is just the beginning. Now it’s important to help orient them to the tasks at hand.
Be Specific About Your Organization’s Needs
You can’t expect your board members to raise money until you’re specific about what that means. Very few board members come to the conference room table ready to raise money. In fact, most are afraid of the idea of raising money.
It’s up to you to reduce their anxiety about fundraising. You can do this by making fundraising SIMPLE. Let them know you expect them to do simple, short tasks to help with fundraising.
Just 15 minutes per month to start.
I recommend asking them to dedicate 15 minutes per month to fundraising. Set a reasonable expectation, so they can be successful following through.
For example, for their 15 minutes in one month ask them to make 3 phone calls or write 3 thank you notes. You will provide scripts or bullet points as well as other necessary materials.
Exceptions to the 15 minutes per month include a fundraising event, like your gala, 0r once or twice a year to bring people on a tour or to meet with the executive director.
By precisely spelling out your expectations, you make fundraising less scary. Let board members know that whenever they are expected to help with fundraising, you will provide them with tools and resources for exactly what you want them to do. It will always be simple.
Provide Relevant Materials and a Tour
It’s also important to educate them about your programs and services so they feel comfortable talking about them. Provide them with a tour, success stories, and a fact sheet about the organization.
For the tour, plan stops along the way to meet key staff members and even offer them a chance to meet clients whenever possible. Encourage them to ask questions. Show a welcome video. Provide some reading materials, like your most recent newsletter and an annual report.
You also want to catch new board members up on your most recent board meetings. Let them know what issues have been discussed and answer any questions they may have.
When your board members show up for their first board meeting, they should feel fully up to speed and ready to join the discussion.
Properly recruited board members will always come to your organization committed and dedicated to the cause and mission, but they still need to be educated about how your organization works.
This week’s Challenge Yourself Action Item involves three steps to help get your board members properly oriented.
Challenge Yourself Action Item
Step 1: Create a board orientation packet.
Develop a board orientation packet for new board members. Fill a folder with resources, including recent newsletters, annual reports, a fact sheet and other publications. Include a copy of the board member job description, a staff and organizational chart, and a full board member list with contact information.
Step 2: Design a tour for board members.
Decide on what to include in a tour for new board members. They will want to meet the staff and see the programs and services in action. Be sure they hear some success stories along the way. The tour can also include virtual elements. Identify a series of video clips for them to learn more about your organization and the people you serve.
Step 3: Determine 15-minutes-or-less fundraising tasks.
Identify 3 ways your board members can help with fundraising in 15 minutes or less per month. Some examples include:
- write 3 thank you notes
- make 3 phone calls
- add a personal note to 3 appeal letters
The key is to do everything you can to ensure your board members feel welcome and excited to begin working with your organization.
Going Further with Major Gifts
One of the keys to helping board members raise money is to take the fear out of fundraising. Giving them simple, doable tasks is a great way to allay their fears and keep them engaged. In the 7-week online course, Mastering Major Gifts, there is a video dedicated to KISS — Keep it Simple, Sister. This video highlights many simple ways you can help board members raise money.
Act, Comment and Participate
Now, I want to hear from you. After all, the Major Gifts Challenge is supposed to be a two-way street. So don’t be shy.
Leave a comment and let me know whether you provide orientation for new board members. If so, what are you currently doing to help them get acclimated to your organization?