Q. The members of my board are unwilling to engage in fundraising on behalf of our agency. How can I motivate them to raise the money critical to fulfilling our vital mission?
A. Most people prefer to undertake tasks in which they have confidence of success. And, most people have a great fear of doing fundraising. It is sort of like public speaking—of which there is no greater dread.
In order to motivate your board you need a plan including the preparation of a training seminar for your organization’s board members, a retreat of sorts. The retreat will serve several purposes: to build and strengthen the bonds among board members, to re-orient the board to the organization’s mission and their responsibilities as board members—as fiduciaries, donors, solicitors, advocates and ambassadors—to train them in cultivating donors, and to motivate them to actually do so.
Assemble binders for each board member, containing detailed information about your organization. In addition to mission and programmatic data, the binders should contain your organization’s expectations of board members and comprehensive financial statements.
Let the training seminar begin with a question: What is the most important part of our agency? Each board member will have the opportunity to share their feelings and passions about the organization. To conclude the session, Forrest will use the financial documents to show the costs and fundraising requirements of the board members’ chosen favorite parts of the organization.
The next segments of the program focus on the organization’s mission and how to be an effective board member—clearly laying out the duties and expectations—one message will be woven throughout: the organization is an exciting place, and the board members’ passion about their involvement can be capitalized on to the future (financial) benefit of the organization.
A significant portion of the seminar should involve methods for cultivating prospective donors, and molding them into more than prospects. Board members will learn how to select the best prospects from their address books (indeed, how to open their address books!) and how to hold the conversations that lead to major gift-giving. This seminar will teach that contrary to popular opinion, there is more to fundraising than “the big ask.” The final seminar session will remind the board members of the organization’s mission, re-invigorate their commitment, and motivate them to write their own checks by upgrading to the next higher donor club bracket.
Following the seminar, you and your board chair should schedule an evaluation meeting with each board member, garner feedback from the recent training, and determine a plan by which each member will go forward. As a result of such training, each board member will be inspired to bring more donors into the fold and to do the work expected of them.