My previous posts have been about building a culture of philanthropy rather than one of fundraising as a way of engaging your board members in fundraising. Tip #12 on my Top 12 Tips list is to build a web of engagement opportunities that encourage each and every board member to be involved according to their individual skill sets and comfort levels.
Grow your Organization’s Culture of Philanthropy
When we tell our board members that “we need your help in fundraising” I guarantee you that 95% of them immediately think we are asking them to ‘ask’ others. In other words, we want them to say to their friends and colleagues those fateful 12 words, “I’d like you to consider a gift of $10,000 to my organization.” Hence – the fear of fundraising. Instead of talking about the ‘ask’, talk about the fundraising cycle and all the various entry points for volunteer leaders. Talk about their role in ‘growing philanthropy’. Work with your board members one on one and talk to them about where they see themselves contributing. Board members are not one-size-fits-all and each individual will bring different skill sets and networks to the table. And each of these should be encouraged, acknowledged and appreciated. Believe me, I have met board members I would never want to put in front of a donor and I bet you have too!
Emphasize the following points:
- There is a role for everyone in fundraising. You can be an ‘asker’, but you can also be an ambassador and an advocate. And within these categories there are many other roles to play.
- The ‘ask’ is about 1% of a continuous fundraising cycle. That’s it! Not everyone has to do it!
- It is vitally important that you, as a volunteer leader, contribute where you are most comfortable. This is going to lead to greater success.
When I ask board members if they want to fundraise most of them usually don’t. But when I ask them if they can open doors, make introductions, go on an advice visit with a staff member, thank donors, bring people to events, host events or tours and anyone of the myriad pieces of the cultivation and stewardship process, they say ‘sure, I can do that’.
And watch, the fear literally falls away.
Check out the Top Ten Indicators of a Philanthropic Culture.
More to come in future instalments of ….the fundraising beat…