Do your board members say they’ll do something ... and then don’t? Does it drive you crazy? Have you ever calculated the amount of time you spend nagging them to follow through?
Shepherding volunteers can be a full-time job. When it comes to board members and their commitments to help with fundraising, the number of people who don’t follow through is high.
It’s easy to believe that your board is full of slackers. But there’s more to it than that. When you create some simple structures, you’ll be able to improve their follow-through.
Here are six steps you can take to improve board fundraising performance and reduce the time you spend chasing members down.
1. Recruit a peer coach/enforcer to help with accountability and training
It’s one thing for staff members to push the board. It’s quite another thing if a trustee fills that role. Call this person the cheerleader or sparkplug or fundraising coach. Or even “The Enforcer!” If you want to have fun, create an Enforcer hat for her to wear to board meetings.
Set her up to succeed. Help the trustees understand that her role is not just nagging, but rather to support them in completing their board fundraising commitments in a timely fashion.
If you think one person isn’t enough, recruit a team of sparkplugs and have them divide up the board for follow-up. Encourage them to use a light touch with their reminder calls and emails. A simple, “How are you doing with your fundraising tasks? How can I help?” will make a big difference.
2. Develop a board member agreement that specifies each trustee’s fundraising responsibilities
We hope you already have a job description for your board members. If you don’t, develop one. If you do, make sure it includes fundraising requirements.
You can expand on this by creating a board fundraising menu. Have each trustee choose his tasks from the menu, then use that as the basis of a customized fundraising agreement. This document should be updated and signed at the beginning of each term.
3. Create line items in the budget for both board giving and board fundraising
When the annual budget is prepared, the board should discuss and decide on goals for both of these line items. The more board members engage in setting goals, the more likely they will be to follow through.
4. Have each trustee report on her progress at every board meeting
When board members know they’ll have to report on their work, they are much more likely to actually do the work.
Initiate a self-reporting process at every meeting—simply go around the circle for a quick report from each trustee on what she’s accomplished in fundraising since the previous meeting. If you combine this with a gentle reminder call from your coach/enforcer, you’ll see a big difference.
5. Set new board members up to succeed
When someone new joins the board, give him a specific orientation about his fundraising roles. Train him in the basics, then pair him with one of your best performers. During the first year, help him choose assignments that are likely to be successful.
6. Provide awards for board fundraising performance
At the end of every year, create awards for board fundraisers. For example, you can create a “Rookie of the Year” award for the most effective new trustee. Consider a “Most Money Raised” award, or “Bravest Asker,” or “Hero in the Face of Rejection.”
Make them fun and real at the same time. Stage a little ceremony and give out prizes.
The Benefits of Improving Follow-Through
When board members follow through on their fundraising commitments, your entire board will function better. Board attendance will go up. Fundraising results will improve. Trustees will be more excited about serving.
If you’re frustrated, be careful about dismissing your board as lazy or unmotivated. Look for ways to motivate trustees by creating systems that will help them be their best, strongest, most accountable selves.
This post was inspired by an article by Andy, “They Said They Would Raise Money ... Now What?” that first appeared in the Grassroots Fundraising Journal.
Andrea Kihlstedt coaches organizations as they prepare for capital campaigns. She also trains boards and develops on-line capital campaign courses. Learn more about Andrea at www.capitalcampaignmasters.com.