Fundraising professionals are great at getting things done, but that’s often because we do it all ourselves. We’ll write every appeal, call all the donors, launch the online campaign, and then post to social media, because we figure someone has to do it, and at least we know we’ll do it right.
While being the Lone Development Ranger isn’t a sustainable strategy anytime of year, during the year-end season, going it alone is impossible– there’s just too much to do.
Luckily, there’s a group of supporters who are already enthusiastic about your cause, perfectly poised to join your fundraising effort. They’ve got networks and skills and they think your organization is great.
It’s your board of directors.
I see you over there, with your eyes rolling, and your rueful chuckling, and your “I say, ‘fundraising’ and they look at me like I’m from Mars.’” I know lots of boards are notoriously hesitant about fundraising, and I know adding, “Get board members excited about year-end fundraising” feels like yet another thing to do.
But let’s imagine you didn’t need to convince anyone of anything, and your board was already enthusiastic about fundraising. Picture what that would be like. Aren’t they a great team of people to have raising funds for your cause, serving as ambassadors into the community, and getting their networks excited about your organization?
Transforming your board into powerhouse fundraisers isn’t magic–it’s about giving them the tools and resources they need to be successful. That’s good news, because those tools and resources are things you already have.
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You can equip your board for fundraising success this year-end season in five simple ways.
1. Give Them Tools
Asking for money is hard for many people. It can feel awkward or pushy, and most of us want to avoid those feelings. That’s why it’s so important to give your board members tools to facilitate asking.
Children of Vietnam, an organization dedicated to alleviating child poverty in Vietnam, raised over $56,000 in their campaign, powered by CauseVox. Recruiting their entire board to fundraise was a key component to their success, but they didn’t stop at recruitment.
They also created a toolkit for fundraisers to use, and focused especially on making things easy for people who weren’t tech-savvy, complete with Power Point slides on how to do all of their online fundraising tasks.
Equip your board with:
- Personal Fundraising Pages
CauseVox’s personal fundraising pages are easy to use, quick to personalize, and connect to the broader fundraising campaign. This makes asking for donations simpler, because your board members can set up their pages and then share them with their networks.
Your board members are far more likely to share your content if you give them a fundraising toolkit. Compile your messaging, graphics, templates and tips, so they have everything they need to easily share the campaign.
Do your board members know that people are more likely to give when a matching gift is offered? Do they understand how peer-to-peer fundraising works? Do they know to share your campaign updates?If you want your board to become fundraising superstars, they will need to know some basics about fundraising. Rather than assuming they know what to do, share best practices with them. Make sure they understand your fundraising strategy, and why you’ve chosen to fundraise the way you have.Your board is likely made of busy professionals, so keep an eye out for quick, short-but-useful educational resources to share with them.
Lower the pressure by giving your board the opportunity to practice asking people for money. Role playing can be helpful–let them practice their pitch on you, or each other, providing gentle feedback.
2. Give Them Updates
Keep your board members in the loop. They should know what your goals are, and how close you are to achieving them. Invite them to celebrate every win with you. In addition to giving them a better understanding of the campaign, this also gives them the opportunity to keep momentum going and push harder within their own networks.
- A weekly email during your campaign, reporting on your progress. Ask some board members to share quotes about their fundraising experience that you can use in the weekly update to encourage others.
- Calling each board member (or recruiting one of them to call the rest) when a major gift comes in, or a goal is reached.
3. Give Them Stories
Storytelling is fundraising fuel–make sure your board members’ tanks are full. Share stories of the work you do, the difference you’re making, and how donations make it happen. These stories will build their enthusiasm for the organization, and give them something to share with their networks.
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CauseVox is built to make telling and sharing stories simple. There’s space for blog posts, and participants in your campaign can tell their own stories. Take a look at Dylan’s story about how World Bicycle Relief’s work will change someone’s life, or Joe’s story about being involved with Kentuckians for the Commonwealth. Powerful stories can come from every corner of your organization.
4. Give Them Jobs
Saying, “Please raise $5,000 by December 31,” and then going on your merry way will probably not get the results you’re hoping for, unless your board members are already fundraising superstars. Instead, give them very specific jobs, such as:
- Contacting a list of previous donors or sponsors to ask if they’ll be supporting the cause again this year
- Identifying a specific number of potential donors in their networks, and making the first contact.
- Crafting a personal appeal for their fundraising page by a certain date
- Helping to keep the momentum rolling by providing quotes to share in your weekly updates.
As your board tackles these jobs, be sure to encourage them. Let them know when they’re doing well, and provide opportunities to check in. After a job is done, show them how much you value their contributions by sitting down with each board member one-on-one to debrief on how it went.
5. Give Them Giving Opportunities
Despite your tools and education, you may have board members who would much rather write you a check themselves than ask anyone else for money. In that case, consider how you can use that gift to build your fundraising campaign, such as creating a challenge or matching gift.
Board members who don’t want to make direct asks can still be involved in the campaign. Ask them to write thank you notes, or share stories about your organization within their networks.
You Should Also Give Them A Round Of Applause
In the end, your board of directors is a group of volunteers and donors. Make sure you thank them, acknowledge their accomplishments, and encourage their efforts to support your organization.