4 Ways to Motivate Your Bored Board Members Through Year-End

It’s the time of year when you have to give your board members “the talk.” You know—the one where you tell them that it would be great if every single board member donated at the year-end.

Hello? *taps microphone* Is this thing on?

The board knew it was coming. And you didn’t want to have to give “the talk.” But it was inevitable. Having trouble getting through? It might be a lack of motivation.

Have no fear—these are the top reasons board members lose their focus at the year-end, and what you can do motivate board members. So now you can get back to year-end fundraising without worrying about what your board members are up to.

Reason #1: Because They’re Tired of Being Asked for Money.

door to door

You know how it is. You gladly bought seven boxes of cookies from the first Girl Scout that knocked on your door. You politely declined thereafter… until about the 20th person knocked on your door. In this case, it wasn’t their fault. Was it the thin mints that made you snap? Probably not. Eventually you don’t feel as much guilt with the rejection. Simply put, it would be impossible for you to say yes to every single person who knocked on your door.

Your board members might feel like you’re knocking on their door for the 20th time this year. (And to be completely honest, is it?) Make sure you know their limits so you’re not becoming the broken record for donation chasing.

How to fix it: It’s easy—stop the incessant asking. If you’re sitting there realizing that you’ve been relentless, don’t be afraid to admit to your board that you were wrong. They’ll have more respect for you if they know that you’re admitting to a fault. Use these tips on asking for donations to get through in a way that will help you retain donors for the future.

Also, don’t just knock on their door when you want money. If the only time you communicate with your board is when you ask for money, you’re doing it wrong. Build a stronger relationship without asking so that when you do make an ask, it’ll feel natural. They’ll be glad to help.

Reason #2: Because They’re Human.

Seriously, can you blame your board members for losing focus during this time of year? On top of the year-end work craziness, they’ve got amplified engagements and activities galore.

And I’m sure you do too. So don’t take it personally if they don’t seem as attentive during this last part of the last quarter (assuming you operate on the Jan. through Dec. fiscal year).

How to fix it: You’re going to have to cut your board a little bit of slack. It’s the holiday season, so remember to show some compassion if they don’t seem as attentive. But make sure that it’s not something deeper than the initial holiday daze. If the board member remains iffy past the first of the year, ask them directly if the problem is something more. Then address their needs from there.

Reason #3: Because You’re Too Overbearing (just hear us out).


When you were younger and your parents told you to do something, you probably wanted to do the exact opposite. Ring a bell? You’re pushing, and pushing… and pushing some more. We’re not blaming you. But instead of getting your board member to do what you want, you’re actually just pushing them further away.

How to fix it: Reverse psychology is in order here (sort of). When you go in asking for money, don’t make it mandatory. You’re likely to get higher donations from board members by not requiring it of them. Let’s face it—people don’t give because they’re told to. They do it because they feel a connection or it makes them feel good.

Reason #4: Because They’ve Lost Interest in Your Organization.

Say it ain’t so! Unfortunately, some members are close to the end of their service and have clearly lost that loving feeling. It wasn’t you, it was them *enter swan song*.

How to fix it: Sadly, there’s not much you can do. Groveling won’t really help your cause, and it’ll probably just hurt your pride. As they say, you’ve got to know when to fold ‘em. Remind the board member that they’ve signed on til the end of their term and try to motivate them to finish strong. Do all you can to reignite that spark they once had for your NPO. Remind them of the good, and steer clear from the bad. Thank them for their service and finish out strong.

Now here’s your opportunity to find those fixes and get your board members to solicit gifts. Join us at 12:30pm EST on Wednesday, December 11 from the comfort of your own office chair, home or computer. Simone Joyaux will let you in on some secrets to success. She’ll teach you how to get your board members on board with soliciting gifts.

Joyaux has been described as “one of the most thoughtful, inspirational and provocative leaders in the philanthropic sector.” Don’t miss out on this amazing opportunity.


Lyndsey Hrabik

Lyndsey is a former editor for Nonprofit Hub and Nonprofit Hub Magazine. She now serves as a guest contributor, writing on topics such as social media, technology, marketing and starting a nonprofit.

December 9, 2013

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