Not very often, but once in a while I invite a guest blogger to post on my site. My friend and colleague, Andrea Kihlstedt, along with her co-author, Andy Robinson, published a book this year, which is so amazing, I wanted to share it with you.
The following post will give you some great ideas on how to engage your board in the fundraising process.
By Andy Robinson and Andrea Kihlstedt
If you’re like most small-shop development people, time is your scarcest resource. With all your grant proposals, mailings, social media updates, events, phone banks, e-blasts, donor meetings, data management, etc., etc., there is never enough time to get it all done.
And yet, when you ask development directors to name their biggest challenge, what complaint is at the top of the list?
“My board isn’t raising enough money.”
Do you even have enough time to teach your board how they might help you raise money? If you’re smart and strategic about it, yes — you do.
Why Your Board Won’t Raise Money: The Three Biggest Reasons
1. They’re afraid to talk about money.
Money is a taboo subject and board members, like everyone else, don’t really want to talk about it with their friends.
2. They misunderstand fundraising.
Your board members probably don’t yet understand that fundraising isn’t about money, it’s about relationships.
3. They don’t know how to do it.
Most people don’t come out of the womb raising money (Amy might be the exception). But fundraising is a teachable, learnable skill, and we need more teachers.
Sure, we could add to this list of board barriers, but these are the Big Three. Training can alleviate all three: fear, misunderstanding, and lack of know-how.
Where will I find the time to train my board?
Training your board doesn’t have to take much time. The trick is to include it in work you’re already doing. For example:
Do you present a development report at board meetings?
Instead of your report, claim 15 minutes to lead a quick exercise, Try this one: Why Do You Care? It’s a short, friendly exercise that’ll get your board members talking about what matters. It’s easy, fun, and effective.
Are you preparing a newsletter, fundraising appeal, or grant proposal?
The previous exercise will generate emotionally powerful stories about your organization. When you’re writing copy, this stuff is gold.
Do you want to help your board members to find their own words when asking for gifts?
Try this one: Trust Your Instincts – Six Quick Asks. It takes a little longer to organize (about 45 minutes), but it’s the simplest role play we know and one of the most effective.
Having lunch with a donor?
Invite a board member to join you, then take a few minutes afterward to debrief what happened and map out next steps to deepen the donor relationship.
Who me? Train my board?
The very idea of training your board might make feel anxious. But you don’t have to be an experienced trainer to do a great job of leading an exercise. You just need a good design and some support from your board members.
So the next time you mutter, “Why won’t my *@&#+^! board help me with fundraising?” stop and ask yourself what you can do to help your board members become engaged. Use every opportunity to teach them how.
And here’s the best part:
If you train your board members to help you raise more money, you’ll also have more time!
Andrea and Andy’s latest book is Train Your Board (and Everyone Else) to Raise Money, a super-useful collection of 51 training exercises — just what you need to start training your board. For free tips and ideas about training your board, sign up for the Train Your Board newsletter.
By the way, I don’t make 1 cent off the sales of this book. I’m recommending it to you because I’ve found it to be a remarkable resource and I know it will help you with board training.
Let’s keep the conversation going — how do you engage your board in fundraising? What challenges have you faced? What’s working for you? Leave a comment below.