Have A Board Member Contest At Your Nonprofit

In week 3 of 100 Donors in 90 Days we meet Amy Eisenstein.  Amy’s conversation focused on her “Top 5 Ways To Find New Donors” and it was filled with ideas to help nonprofits – big and small – gain supporters.  While I could have chosen any of the top 5 to highlight, number three: Have A Board Member Contest, struck me as a particularly good idea because I participated in something similar as a board member a few years ago. And it was a success.  I had never seen it talked about in this way and I definitely learned a bit about what makes me tick as a donor in her explanation.

What is a new donor board member contest?”
Amy’s idea to have a board member contest is that if you propose the idea of a contest to your board, while engaging them in designing and promoting it, they will be excited about the process and more participatory.

The example she used was a board creating a $5,000 match for all new donors within a set amount of time. Further, she suggested that the board chair or staff encourage the board to engage in a creative brainstorming session to come up with ideas that they think would work with potential new donors.  Then ask the board to consider:

  • How are we going to promote this?
  • How are we going to spread the word?
  • How are we going to reach these new donors?

The answers to the three questions could be anything from social media to flyers and postcards to hand out by board members or at events.  Remember that in all likelihood you do not have these potential new donors in your database so a direct mail piece will not be the best use of resources.

My experience as a board member
What contest did I participate in?  Coincidentally, it was almost identical to Amy’s example although it wasn’t focused on new donors (although I do love that aspect of her idea).  The board chair reserved a portion of the meeting to discuss ways to encourage the board to give earlier during the year to ease some of the financial concerns that had arisen from front and back loading events and year-end direct mail pieces.  Then, it was suggested we all participate in a board challenge  – what a great way to make the board member feel better about donating early in the year while creating the opportunity for donors to do the same (without knowing about the financial concerns).  I, along with my colleagues, did give at that time and felt good about how much more money my same donation would help leverage this year.

And, had they asked me to do it again I would have.  Engage board members and new donors with one campaign – pretty impressive.