Lots of interesting material at the Mid-Valley Nonprofit Network's
(part of the Nonprofit Association of Oregon
) panel discussion on "Board Fundraising: Lessons from the Field
" today. Here are a few excerpts from notes I made from the discussion by the facilitator and panelists:
- "The ask isn't an ask ... It's giving people an opportunity to join you in making something good happen."
- For most groups, getting better at fundraising and raising the level of board involvement and ownership of fundraising is the single best answer to Steven Covey's "7 Habits" question about "What's the most important thing I could be doing right now?" Q: How Does It Happen? (successful board leadership on fundraising): A: (1) Entrepreneurial zeal - you need to be hungry (2) Board commitment; (3) Making sure everyone has passion for the cause.
- Q: How do you get board members to be passionate? A: You don't ... You can't make others be passionate. But you can share your passion, such as by sharing stories about the difference you make at board meetings, "putting faces on the spreadsheets." Also, remember to treat board members like the donors that they are - meaning to include them in any of your volunteer recognition events.
- BOARD ROLE IN FUNDRAISING:
- Not just planning events, but also showing up and participating in them. Donors expect to see and meet board members at events, participating as hosts. E.g., board members invite friends to their houses for dinner and drinks ... Then do 45 minutes and a few words from an ED, leave gift envelopes around casually. The board member's story about why they love it is more compelling than the ED's. Why? Because the board member isn't paid, and "people give to peers who have given."
- Successful fundraising doesn't flow directly from emphasizing fundraising, it flows from other key attributes of a successful organization, especially a thought-out board development program, so that you become the kind of nonprofit that has a waiting list of people who want to help. Every board member has to be a steward for the organization, protect the mission of the group, and represent the group to the world. (See Marion-Polk Food Share's prospective board member questionnaire.)
- When you consider a new prospective board member, you must clearly articulate the commitments, including attendance and how much they are expected to raise or give. If the situation changes, you can ask the member to resign if they can't fulfill their commitment.
- Q: What is the role of strategic planning in Fundraising? A: For donors, it's a deal breaker if you don't know where you're going. You have to have your own fiscal house in order, which is what convinces people to give.
- "Don't talk about what we do, talk about the difference we make."
- Q: How do you retain and increase donor support? A: Let people know the difference their gift made. Start with a donor perspective: why do they give, what do they want from giving.
- Idea: get the board out of the asking business and into the thanking business.
- Concentrate on giving donors three to five touches (contacts, calls, letters, events) in between asks, otherwise people start to feel like an ATM for you.