by Maria Lahiffe
When board members are engaged in fundraising, organizations raise more money.  However, it can be really hard to engage your board in fundraising activities. There are a number of potential barriers to board involvement in fundraising, including:
Mena Gainpaulsingh has 18 years of experience in fundraising, including involving board members in the process in a way that capitalizes on their strengths. Following is a précis of a recent blog post she wrote on the topic. Click here for the full post, or better yet, register for her upcoming seminar, where you can bring your questions and your own organization’s challenges to the discussion.
Here are some things you can do to help your board feel more comfortable supporting the fundraising function of your organization.
In major gift fundraising, they talk about the “journey towards the ask”. This includes making sure you ask donors at the right time, in the right way, for the right amount, and the right project. The same applies to board engagement. Make sure that every board member really understands why you exist in the first place and what impact your organization has with individuals in your community. Then make sure they understand why fundraising is an important way to increase that impact.
Most people join a board because they feel passionate about the cause. You need to tap into this passion, in order to help your board members feel comfortable fundraising. Take time to get to know each board member individually, to understand what brought them to your organization. What do they care about most and how do they want to make a difference?
People are often reluctant to fundraise because they feel that they will come across as working to advance their own personal goals. They also feel uncomfortable because they feel that fundraising is about money. Fundraising is not really about money at all: it is about giving people an opportunity to make a solid impact for a cause they believe in.
What will the money do, and what will happen to your stakeholders if the money is not there?
There are many different aspects of good fundraising practice. Someone who is reluctant to ask for money may be excellent at donor stewardship, telling the organization’s story in a compelling way that will make it easier for you to persuade that donor of the importance of continued financial support.
As with any role, people need the right support and training to be effective. Find out what your board needs to fulfil their fundraising role. Do they need a great case for support, or scripts to make calls? It is also important to create non-threatening opportunities to which their contacts can be invited, such as a tour of your facility. This way they can introduce their contacts to the organization in a gentle way. The contact may not be interested or able to make a donation, but may be a great ambassador for your organization, which could bring in donations from other people.
Come join the discussion to learn more about involving your board in this very important function.
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