I train people (and boards) to be great fundraisers.
Most organizations that hire me are frustrated their board isn’t fundraising. They’re afraid. Sometimes they’re frustrated because that responsibility wasn’t made clear when they joined. No matter where your board is I’ve got some help for you!
Here’s 6 simple tips to give your board a fundraising makeover:
#1 Remember they’re volunteers. You are paid to do this work. And you’re an expert at it. But your board members are busy people with full time jobs and family obligations. This means they’ll never be the expert you are. They’re going to need your help and guidance. Moreover, they need you to keep them motivated. Do you know what motivates them?
#2 Set the right expectations. You wouldn’t hire someone to work for you without explaining the job and how their performance will be evaluated. What do you do if your whole board has the wrong expectations? Can they be saved? Yes. You’ll need the board chair on board. Hiring outside expertise for some board training will also work wonders.
#3 Frame fundraising correctly. I often see resentment between staff and boards over the board’s lack of participation in fundraising. My advice? Start with the need and case for support. Don’t lead with the task you want them to do, i.e. sell tables, or name the prospects they know on our list.
#4 Offer a multitude of different ways to support fundraising. You likely have some board members who are introverts and others who are extroverts. Different activities will appeal to each of them. Approaching everyone with a “one size fits all” expectation will frustrate some of your board members. This can frustrate other board members and most certainly staff. Get 10 ways board members can support fundraising in my guide, The Board Member’s Guide to Fundraising.
#5 Remember that fundraising is staff led. Your board members are not going to wake up tomorrow and start soliciting donors. You have to mobilize them, coach them and provide support.
#6 Manage up. Supporting and leading a group of volunteers is seriously tricky business. You need to excel at leading without authority, also known as “managing up”. This means flexing your communication style, putting yourself in another person’s shoes, and being a proactive communicator.
Boards can get better. Want some help? Join me for my new 4 part webinar series, Fundraise Like a Boss. You’ll get fundraising strategies and tools to boost revenue and help your board thrive! If you want free help to boost your fundraising sign up for my free webinars and I’ll send you a personal invite to each one.
The preceding is a guest post by Rachel Muir, CFRE and Vice President of Training at Pursuant where she transforms individuals into confident, successful fundraisers through classroom, custom and online training. When she was 26 years old, Rachel Muir launched Girlstart, a nonprofit organization that empower girls in math, science, engineering and technology in the living room of her apartment with $500 and a credit card. Several years later she had raised over 10 million dollars and was featured on Oprah, CNN, and the Today show. Girlstart is a Silver-level GuideStar Nonprofit Profile participant.