Rachel Muir, CFRE, was a guest contributor for Nonprofit Hub and speaker at Cause Camp 2016. She is Vice President of Training at Pursuant where she transforms individuals into confident, successful fundraisers through classroom, custom and online training. When she was 26 years old, Rachel Muir launched Girlstart, a nonprofit organization to empower girls in math, science, engineering and technology in the living room of her apartment with $500 and a credit card. Several years later she had raised over 10 million dollars and was featured on Oprah, CNN, and the Today show.
“Just ask Oprah!” The board member gleefully proclaimed—like it was that easy. Behind her smile the development director was fuming. She wanted to say, “Sure! When can you set up the meeting?”
Almost every organization I train is frustrated with their board. In every webinar, classroom training or custom training I lead, I get an earful about lackluster boards. The number one complaint is always, “They aren’t fundraising.”
Board members are scared. They imagine asking a personal friend or business associate who doesn’t want to give and either turns them down, or does it and now they “owe” them something.
The truth is that there are lots of ways board members can support fundraising that don’t involve an ask. Here are 10 to get you started.
1. Make Their Own Gift
Bottom line: EVERY board member should be a current and generous donor to your organization. The amount they gave should be significant to them based on their capacity. Wealthier board members can and should give more but everyone should make a gift that is meaningful to them.
2. Call Donors to Thank Them
Think this doesn’t have an impact? Think again! In a study by Penelope Burk, donors receiving a “thank you” call from a board member within 24 hours of making their gift said they gave 39 percent more. Fourteen months later those same donors were giving 42 percent more than donors who didn’t get the call and they had a 70 percent retention rate. Set your board members up for success. Give them a sample thank-you script, background on the donor, details on their gift and a few discovery questions they can ask to learn more about them.
3. Name Your Organization in Their Will
4. Invite 10 of Their Key Contacts to a Private Tour of the Organization
5. Host an Intimate Cultivation Event in Their Home
6. Get Assigned Two to Three Donors to Cultivate
Cultivation is key AND it sets up the next ask. The invitation is the cultivation (even if they never come). Board members can regularly call the donors to update them on how their gift is making an impact. I recommend assigning no more than 3 donors to each board member. Three is a realistic number for a volunteer to handle.
7. Take on a Project to Increase Community Awareness about the Organization
They can write letters to the editor, a series of blog posts or use social media like Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, or Instagram to raise awareness. Or, send a follow-up on press releases to media outlets.
8. Share How Money Makes an Impact at the Organization
What a great way for them to teach other board members, the community, donors and prospects about how they can have an impact on the mission!