Empowering Your Board to Fundraise – Part 1

Treating Our Board Members as Major Donors

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Our Board members can be our biggest asset.  Yet sometimes there exists a tension between staff and board.  I think the key to making the relationship work is communication, cultivation and caring. The same efforts we apply to cultivating and soliciting a major donor, should be offered to our Board members.

According to BoardSource, one of the ten basic responsibilities of non-profit boards is to,

Ensure adequate resources. One of the board’s foremost responsibilities is to secure adequate resources for the organization to fulfill its mission.

Yet this seems to be one of biggest challenges facing Board members and their organizations.

Sometimes we get off track with Board members and them with us.  I would contend micromanaging Boards are doing so because their attention and work has not been focused. Staff may be disappointed in the Boards’ fundraising performance and may not have empowered them to succeed. In other cases, staff assumes the Board is aware of their fundraising responsibilities. Then we have some Board members who were recruited or inherited without the understanding of their fundraising responsibilities. These misunderstandings lead to an us.v them relationship or worse.

Shift the paradigmif we treat our Board members like major donors how would the relationship change?  Creating a relationship with donors has always been about the donors needs, not the organization wants. Here are some ideas to engage your Board and create a relationship that works:

  • What is their communication preference? – in person, email, fax, mail, Twitter?
  • Do you have a intranet site for Board members to access information?
  • Use Google docs to share information and materials
  • Send information using an email program like Constant Contact to be sure everyone can receive the materials and you can track if there was a problem
  • Communicate with them in between Board meetings and not just about their fundraising
  • Share program information that interests them – don’t wait for Board meetings
  • Did you read an article that might interest them? Mail it to them with a note.
  • Good news? – call them and share it in person
  • Challenges you need help with? – ask for their advice
  • Find out about their lives – personal and professional
  • You should know when their birthdays are and if they have a partner and/or children those dates as well – minimally send an email or staff signed card
  • Read about them or their company in the news? – let them know you saw it
  • Do they follow a sports team or play a sport? – ask how it’s going
  • Do they travel? – where and how – have a conversation
  • Prepare and support them in the Board and committee service for the organization
  • Call before the Board/committee meeting to confirm their attendance – let them know you are excited for their participation
  • Make sure they received the materials.
  • Ask if they have any questions before a meeting.
  • Follow up after a meeting with any questions or actions.
  • Call before deadlines to ask if they need assistance. – empower them to be successful.

For more information, inspiration and resources visit www.3talisman.com/resources.

How do you work with your Board? Please share your ideas.

In Part II – Working with your Board on fundraising by empowering their participation.

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