When you tell board members that you need help with fundraising, many of them automatically think you are telling them they need to go ask their friends and colleagues for money. And while that certainly wouldn’t hurt, it is important to note that not every board member will feel comfortable doing that. That’s ok. There are lots of ways that your board members can help your fundraising efforts.
Remember – fundraising is about building relationships… and that’s where your board members can shine.
Here are 3 different ways your board members can participate in the fundraising process… without asking for money:
#1: Helping with Non-Ask Events
Let’s start with non-ask events, which are my favorite way to get board members engaged in development. A non-ask event is an event held by your nonprofit, that targets donors and prospects, but does not include any fundraising ask or cost of admission for attendees. The goal of a non-ask event is to help you find new donors, and to cultivate the donors you already have.
Use non-ask events as an easy way for your board members to introduce the organization to their friends, colleagues, business partners, and social network. For every non-ask event, ask for two or three board members to each take responsibility for getting three or four people to the event to introduce them to your nonprofit. This is usually an easy ask for you to make to your board members, once you tell them that you won’t be asking for money at the event, and that the event will simply be a chance to introduce the organization to their friends.
#2: Thanking and Building Relationships with Current Donors
Here’s a way your board members can help build relationships with current donors and help strengthen the bonds between your organization and its donors. Your fundraising team is likely already in regular contact with your largest donors, but you probably don’t have the time or resources to have one-on-one meetings with your mid-level donors.
What if you had a handful of board members who took over this responsibility for you? What if a couple of your board members called every new mid-level donor to thank them for their gift and invite them out to lunch? What if your board chair and vice-chair called every major donor and invited them out for a round of golf? What if your board simply worked the phones along with your staff and called every one of your current donors simply to say “thank you!”
How can you utilize YOUR board members to help you deepen your organization’s relationships with donors and prospects?
#3: Inviting You to a Speaking Opportunity or Networking Event
Many companies, social clubs, country clubs, churches / synagogues, and service clubs have regular meetings and could use a good speaker from a local nonprofit to talk about the problems facing your local community. Likewise, many of these same groups hold networking events for their members and their friends to meet and greet in a social setting.
Wouldn’t it be helpful for your group to get in front of a meeting of potential donors and introduce them to your organization? Likewise, wouldn’t you like to be in a roomful of businessmen and women at a networking event, getting introduced by your board member, who knows everyone in the room?
Most board members don’t realize that you want to be invited to these kinds of events and speaking opportunities… you have to let them know. Tell your board members that you would love to accompany them to these meetings, and to speak to their groups. You don’t want to simply get a ticket and attend alone – you want your board members to “show you around” the meeting and introduce you to people. Most board members I have talked to about this type of speaking and networking jump at the opportunity to show off the organizations they are working with. You never know until you ask!
Your nonprofit relies on its board members to help raise the money you need to thrive. Smart nonprofits help board members who are uncomfortable with fundraising to ease in to the process, so that every board member has the chance to assist with development. Use these three ideas to help your board become the fundraising superstars you need them to be!
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