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Fundraising

3 Ways to Help Board Members Become Fundraising Experts

    Posted by on September 17, 2014
    3 min read

I do consulting for many different nonprofits. One thing I can tell you is that regardless of their mission, almost every nonprofit has the same concern: Fundraising. In particular, it has become a big point of tension between board members/trustees and the nonprofit’s staff. Why? Board members are asked to bring in significant donations, yet fundraising isn’t something most trustees enjoy or even feel comfortable doing.

When I work with nonprofit boards on their fundraising strategies, I often lead an exercise that quickly reveals this discomfort. I ask trustees to write one word on an index card that describes their feelings about fundraising. When I read them aloud –anonymously—we hear words like “challenging” “icky” and even “terrifying.”

There’s no question that growing and managing the financial resources of a nonprofit is one of a board member’s most significant tasks. However, trustees might do a better job if fundraising was something they could actually enjoy—which I think is entirely possible. It can help to offer board members some targeted training in the art of “the ask.” However, I can suggest three other simple strategies that will compliment your fundraising, and help to ensure your efforts are maximized to their fullest potential.

1. Give them great stories. Board members are a nonprofit’s greatest public ambassadors. But to do that job well, they need more than just facts and figures. They need great, real-life anecdotes about how the organization fulfills its mission each day.

If your nonprofit does legal aid work, for instance, your board should hear personal stories about legal triumphs they can later share with potential donors. In a nutshell: “Let me tell you about a client my nonprofit helped recently. This is the kind of amazing case we handle all year long. If we had enough money to hire one more attorney, imagine all the good we could do. Can you help us?” That’s great fundraising.

As I tell clients: Compelling story + a credible messenger = $$$. A check for your nonprofit is the organic endproduct here.

2. Let them touch and feel the work. Board members faithfully show up for quarterly meetings and your nonprofit’s annual gala, but when’s the last time they rode on the trucks to bring meals to homebound patients with chronic illnesses (or whatever your nonprofit’s mission may be)? Have they ever done a shift in the kitchen or spent time getting to know a homeless client? Board members need to steep themselves in your nonprofit’s work, because that personal involvement will make them much more effective fundraisers. They’ll get so fired up about your nonprofit that their passion for your organization will trump their anxiety over asking for donations.

3. Give them context about your nonprofit’s sector. Board members may have joined your organization because they care about a larger issue such as hunger or immigrant rights. Help your board members connect to those bigger concerns. If you run a food pantry, for instance, bring speakers to your board meeting to talk about the broader challenge of hunger in your community. How prevalent is it? What are some of the underlying causes? What are the repercussions? Help your board members see how your nonprofit fits into the broader picture.

If you provide board members with these key ingredients—great stories, personal experience with the work, and greater context—fundraising is going to feel much more natural to them. Instead of “pitching” their friends and colleagues about donating to a good cause, they’ll be inviting them to join in on a mission about which they feel passionate. Their results will speak for themselves.

 

 

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Please remember to contact RegentAtlantic if there are any changes in your personal or financial situation or investment objectives for the purpose of reviewing our previous recommendations and services, or if you wish to impose, add, or modify any reasonable restrictions to our investment management services. A copy of our current written disclosure statement discussing our advisory services and fees is available for your review upon request. This article is not a substitute for personalized advice from RegentAtlantic. This information is current only as of the date on which it was sent. The statements and opinions expressed are, however, subject to change without notice based on market and other conditions and may differ from opinions expressed in other businesses and activities of RegentAtlantic. Descriptions of RegentAtlantic’s process and strategies are based on general practice and we may make exceptions in specific cases.

Please note that Joan Garry is not an employee of RegentAtlantic and this is not an endorsement of her consulting services

Important disclosure information

Please remember that different types of investments involve varying degrees of risk, including the loss of money invested. Past performance may not be indicative of future results. Therefore, it should not be assumed that future performance of any specific investment or investment strategy, including the investments or investment strategies recommended or undertaken by RegentAtlantic Capital, LLC (“RegentAtlantic”) will be profitable.

Please remember to contact RegentAtlantic if there are any changes in your personal or financial situation or investment objectives for the purpose of reviewing our previous recommendations and services, or if you wish to impose, add, or modify any reasonable restrictions to our investment management services. A copy of our current written disclosure statement discussing our advisory services and fees is available for your review upon request.

This article is not a substitute for personalized advice from RegentAtlantic. This article is current only as of the date on which it was sent. The statements and opinions expressed are, however, subject to change without notice based on market and other conditions and may differ from opinions expressed in other businesses and activities of RegentAtlantic. Descriptions of RegentAtlantic’s process and strategies are based on general practice and we may make exceptions in specific cases.

RegentAtlantic does not provide legal or tax advice. Please consult with a legal and or tax professional of your choosing prior to implementing any of the strategies discussed in this article.

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