by Andrea McManus, CFRE
Today lets talk about Tip #4 on my top twelve list for engaging your board in fundraising is to – work with board members one-on-one for personalized support and maximum engagement.
It is essential to work with board members one-on-one but as a group communicate these messages in support of their individual involvement in fundraising:
- As individual board members you have huge opportunity and potential to bring your networks, contacts and influences to our organization and along with it the potential to maximize philanthropic support, all of which directly advances our mission. No one is as well positioned as our board members to undertake this critical role. We can do it alone as staff, but we can’t do it as well.
- Simply by being a member of our board and advocating on our behalf you bring credibility to our mission and demonstrate that the work we do and the people we help is crucially important to our stakeholders and our community. It is instant validation with prospective donors.
- When you speak on behalf of our organization and make connections with donors you are inviting those donors to share in the passion you feel for what we do. You are offering them the same opportunity you have had. This is much stronger and more persuasive coming from a volunteer peer than from a staff member.
As fundraisers we have a pretty clear idea of what we need and want from our board members when it comes to fundraising. But do we always take the time to ask the right questions so we understand what our board members need from us? One of the exercises I like to do in board fundraising workshops is to break the participants into groups ensuring there is at least one staff member in each group. Then I give them plenty of time (30 minutes or so) to have a conversation guided by the following questions:
- What does the staff think its board members could do and how would they make that work?
- What do board members think they can do and how can staff help them to be successful?
- What specific tools do board members need to be successful?
I do this exercise towards the end of what is usually a half-day workshop so we have already covered a lot of enlightening materials from the board perspective and I often find that staff are more, or at least as equally, surprised at the conversation flow than the board members. They realize they have missed an important piece of the puzzle or they have put the puzzle pieces together incorrectly and the picture is skewed. They have probably provided goals, success factors, trends, reports, tools and techniques but they may have missed the real context, the essential fabric of why fundraising is important. They haven’t pulled it all together.
Try it with your board!
More to come in future instalments of ….the fundraising beat…