In my previous post I spoke about building a culture of philanthropy rather than one of fundraising. Tip #11 is an essential step in ensuring your board understands that it is not about the fundraising, nor the dollars in the door, nor the next event. What it is about is the relationship and what donors are looking for. One of the best ways to do this?
Tip #11 – Make your board ‘feel’ why people give, generally and specifically to your organization.
If you aren’t already, try the following:
- Regularly celebrate gifts to your organization at board and committee meetings and actively create other opportunities to share how and why a donor came to your organization and why you appealed to his/her philanthropic inclination, how the cultivation process unfolded, and why he/she ultimately decided to make the gift. Don’t just advise that a gift was made by Mr and Mrs. Smith. Bring your board into the passion of Mr. and Mrs. Smith.
- Give your board members the opportunity to interact with donors at individual meetings, on tours and at events. This is just part of good stewardship but also gives your board members deeper insight into giving motivations. And insight = understanding.
Gail Perry has a terrific exercise that effectively allows board members to get their own feelings out about fundraising but also opens their eyes to why they, and other people, give.
First, ask your board members to pair up and talk about how they feel about soliciting and asking for money. A good question is “How do you personally feel about raising and soliciting funds?” Give them a couple of minutes to discuss with each other – you will see lots of animated discussion – and then share with the group. The words are often ‘rejection’, ‘embarrassed’, ‘charity’, ‘begging’, ‘hitting-up’, ‘nervous’, ‘unpleasant’, ‘ guilty’ – you get the picture.
Next, ask them to pair up again and discuss a different question. ‘Think of a time you recently made a gift to an organization you really care about or that has touched you personally. How did you feel when you wrote that cheque? Why did you write that cheque and what do you hope to achieve by it?” Again, give them a couple of minutes for discussion and to process with the group. This time you are very likely to hear all the reasons we, as fundraisers, know of why people give: to give back; to improve or save lives; to help people in need; to give people a hand up; because they felt a personal responsibility to others; and many others. This is the perfect time to compare the two sets of answers and relate their giving to the same reasons that other people give. It is a very powerful exercise.
Kay Sprinkel-Grace has a great quote that works particularly well with this exercise:
“Nonprofit organizations exist to fulfill community needs. People do not give because an organization has needs. They give because your organization meets needs.”
Board members really get this quote. It can be like a light going on and puts the focus where it should be – on the people you are serving and what opportunities are available for the donor to connect with them.
Click here for the Top Ten Indicators of a Philanthropic Culture.
More to come in future instalments of ….the fundraising beat…