by Andrea McManus, CFRE
As fundraisers we often get frustrated that our boards (and our organizations!) don’t understand what it is we actually do. My last 4 tips out of the Top 12 Tips on engaging your board directly relate to clearing the fog - the often hilarious and sometimes sad myths about ‘fundraising’ and, in particular its relationship to philanthropy and our donors. And here’s the thing: we often are the worst perpetrators of these myths! But the flip side of that is that we have tons of opportunity to change the conversation, the context and the understanding. So let’s start with Tip #9:
Present fundraising strategically and don’t box yourself into being measured simply on the basis of raising $xxx’s.
And how do we do that? By making sure your board ‘gets’ the importance of fundraising – right from the beginning.
If you want your board members to think strategically about fundraising then you must present it from a strategic perspective, starting with the board orientation and including regular reinforcement aligned with planning cycles. Constantly remind them that the development plan and goals are driven by the strategic plan and the strategic plan’s success is dependant (to whatever degree) on the success of the fundraising plan.
Board members have probably been provided with our 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. Without this context you will likely not get the action you want so make sure your board knows:
- why private support is required and how important it is to your budget, i.e., how it allows you to fund new programs but also the impact on programs if you don’t meet your goals;
- how it determines programming and mission-fulfillment ;
- how it is used, both restricted and non-restricted gifts, and particularly the importance of the latter;
- successes, challenges and lessons learned in previous fundraising;
- how fundraising goals are set, based on past history, current and appropriate resources and realistic growth, i.e. that goals are not set based on the budget deficit;
- that it is not just about reaching a single dollar goal in any given year but about building a sustainable program over the long-term that includes acquiring new donors, retaining current donors, filling the pipeline and numerous other measurable activities;
- who your current donors are, both generally and specifically, and how they have become donors (particularly when they can be linked back to board member engagement).
I’m convinced we can change this conversation. Are you?
More to come in future installments of ….the fundraising beat…