Monday Mixtape 028: Board Member Fundraising
Here’s your Monday Mixtape, a weekly newsletter from CauseVox designed to jumpstart your week, challenge your thinking, and inspire you to keep at it.
Each week, we’ll hand-pick must-read articles, thinking, resources, and stories for nonprofit fundraisers and leaders and drop it in your inbox. Have suggestions or questions? Let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org. Enjoy this week’s Mixtape!
So … how’s your board’s health?
If you’re smiling happily as you think of these dedicated volunteer leaders who lead your organization, support your staff, and champion your cause, good for you!
But if you’re not, you’re not alone.
Nonprofit boards can be a source of passion, revenue, and thoughtful governance. They can also be a huge source of stress. This week, I’m looking at how to work most effectively with your board, including recruiting awesome people in the first place, helping board members do what they need to do, and keeping misunderstandings and headaches to a minimum.
Here’s this week’s mix:
We cannot accomplish all that we need to do without working together.” –Bill Richardson
Track #1: 8 Tips To Help Your Nonprofit Board Become Evangelists For Your Cause by Tina Jepson at CauseVox
Boards have the potential to be powerful ambassadors for organizations. They might need a little help, though. In this post, Tina offers eight ideas to inspire your board.
Tina’s first tip is to prioritize board education, especially with new board members. It’s easy to get caught up in the day-to-day workings of an organization and forget that not everyone knows what’s going on. Give them a tour of your facility, offer to take them on a site visit, introduce them to program leaders, clients, and volunteers.
In addition to education, Tina recommends setting concrete goals, making board meetings meaningful, respecting everyone’s time, encouraging committee participation, providing fundraising training, pairing board members in a “buddy system,” and showing appreciation and enthusiasm for their efforts.
There’s lots of good practical advice here. Many of these ideas are really about engagement—the more board members are involved in and excited about their board service, the more positive they’re likely to be.
Track #2: Developing A Board Recruitment Process by Wild Apricot
One of the first steps towards building a strong board is to get very intentional about your recruitment process. Without an actual, written-out, multi-step process, things can get haphazard rather quickly. That’s when you run into problems that could have been avoided. As this article from the folks at Wild Apricot says:
“It’s not about ‘filling seats’. An established recruitment process (that includes a well-defined role and expectations as well as an application and screening process) ensures that all candidates are qualified and evaluated using consistent criteria and process. So it won’t come down to a question of a referral gone wrong, an awkward situation or even worse, the desire to ‘uninvite’ a candidate who turns out to be a bad fit or poses any potential conflicts of interest.”
Their thorough guide proposes a 4-step recruitment process. The four steps are: Define Your Needs, Find Candidates, Screening and Selection, and Orientation. I really appreciate how much they focus on defining and communicating expectations (in both directions!), and the reminder that board development is an ongoing process.
Weekly Wow: How Look What SHE Did! Uses Peer-to-Peer & Women’s History Month To Activate Their Community
Fundraising is usually one of the major challenges startup nonprofits face. But Look What SHE Did!, a 501(c)3 organization committed to telling stories with amazing women, about amazing women, found that peer-to-peer fundraising was a phenomenal, effective means to rally a new community of supporters and fund their worthwhile efforts.
Because of their tremendous success with two peer-to-peer fundraising campaigns, we wanted to spend some time learning about the organization’s experience and key takeaways. We had the chance to chat with Cara Harrington, the Associate Producer for Look What SHE Did. Cara co-led the charge for their second ever fundraising campaign this past year by managing three separate events that fed into the overall fundraising goal.
Track #3: 3 Tips For Managing “Up”: How To Get Your Board To Do What You Need Them To Do by Gail Perry at Fired Up Fundraising
A big part of the difficulty a lot of us have with boards is the power dynamic. After all, their support (or lack thereof) can make or break our ideas. And their ideas can determine the direction of the organization.
Gail’s tips are to cultivate relationships with board members who share your point of view, “count your votes” and line up support before making proposals and to encourage your board member allies to rein in other board members who are heading in a bad direction.
This may seem like common sense, but I don’t see it talked about much in nonprofit circles. Since we often focus on consensus (to a fault, some might say) influencing group dynamics this deliberately isn’t a skill that everyone has cultivated.
I’m interested to know what you think of this post. On the one hand, Gail’s suggesting a fairly political way of operating, one that not everyone will be comfortable with. On the other hand, I can think of times that working this way would have really helped organizations stay on track, and given executive and development directors a fighting chance. What do you think?
Track #4: 5 Ways To Find New Board Members by Tricia Mirchandani at CauseVox
Sometimes, a perfect board member will fall right into your lap, but the rest of the time, you’ve got to find them. In this post, Tricia suggests five ways to connect with these elusive individuals: letting people know you’re looking on social media and in communications, asking for recommendations, inviting people within your base of volunteers and donors, using volunteer matching sites, and keeping your search in mind during real-life encounters with new people.
One of the tips that stood out to me was keeping an eye on who is engaging the most with your social media. Does someone retweet all your posts? Comment on everything? Share your events? They are already passionate about your cause, so it might be worth getting to know them. They may be your next board member.
By the way …
Interested in how top nonprofits fully leverage their board for fundraising?
Well, we’ve recently put together a comprehensive guide you can use to fully leverage your board in your fundraising plan, especially during year-end.
You can see the full guide here (no download required).
Thanks for reading!
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P.S. Questions about this week’s mix? Suggestions for next week? Don’t leave me in the dark. Let me know by emailing me at email@example.com.