Some of my board members have said they are “hurt and offended” when I repeatedly ask for their cooperation in generating new leads. How do I get them to understand how important this is without sending them into the “fight or flight” response?
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Great question, Donna!
I’ve found that the easiest way to break down the emotional walls between your board members and fundraising is stewardship. Instead of focusing on tasks your board members are resistant to, have them do something they will love doing — thanking people!
I can’t think of any better board member responsibilities than making thank you calls and writing thank you letters. You can also send them out to thank people in person.
Think of your board members as your Thank You Army.
Involving Board Members is a Good Thing
The reason this is so important is that studies have shown that involving board members in your thank you process has a direct result on your fundraising bottom line.
And, there’s more and more evidence that the faster you thank your donors, the more they will give.
So, how can you make this happen?
Creating Your ‘Thank You Army’
Let your board members know that you expect them all to participate in fundraising. And, that one of the ways they can best help is to make thank you calls and write thank you letters.
The catch is that they need to do it quickly, because there’s evidence that impact that a thank you has decreases over time.
In other words, it’s important to thank your donors while their gift to you is still fresh in their mind. The last thing you want to happen is to have them wonder — did I even make a gift to this organization?
Give them the materials they need to succeed.
However, don’t assume your board members know how to make thank you calls or write thank you notes — give them a script or template!
Remind them that it’s fine to leave messages, and to be sure they tell the donor that they’re a volunteer board member calling to thank them for their recent gift.
If the donor has questions that the board member can’t answer, have a system for getting that question to staff quickly, so you can provide a timely response.
Suggest they share how the gift was used.
Another great way to use your board members is to have them let donors know how their gifts were used. So, six or eight months after a gift is made, have board members communicate by mail, phone, or even in person, the difference that a donation has made to your organization.
I promise, once your board members start thanking people, they will quickly see the joy that giving brings others, and are much more likely to become involved in other areas of fundraising.
How often do your board members thank donors? Tell me about it in the comments.
This post is part of my Year of the Fundraising Board series. Check out the entire series to learn how to create a stronger, smarter, and super motivated nonprofit board.