As the holiday fundraising season approaches, getting your board members involved might be on your mind. The more committed people you get involved, the less stressful fundraising will be. By getting your Board to participate, you can spread around some responsibility. But you also have to support them in their work, so getting yourself set up for success is important.
Here are three steps you can take to help your organization’s board participate in fundraising!
1. Have Board Members Commit to Fundraising at the Beginning of the Year
Your Board should know that they must participate in fundraising right from the beginning of their Board service. Engaging them when a campaign is about to begin is engaging them too late.
A great way to ensure they understand their responsibilities is to have them each sign a Board Contract each year. While not legally binding, this gives them a clear outline of what is expected of them. Board contracts should include a give/get commitment, how they plan to fulfill each, and participation in meetings and events.
This document can be super simple, but it gives you something to reflect back on with each Board member quarterly. What did they commit to and have they fulfilled on that commitment? It also tells them early on that you will be asking them to help you ask for money.
Later this month, we’ll be sending out a board contract template to our Members! Our Members get tools like this each month, in addition to other consulting and services. Email firstname.lastname@example.org if you want to learn more about Membership.
2. Training Your Board in Fundraising
Participating in fundraising can mean a lot of different things. It could mean event planning, coordinating personal emails to donors, and cultivating relationships with funders at fundraising events such as galas. With this in mind, be thinking about what kind of tasks specific board members would thrive in. Does someone have connections with local vendors to secure food and drink for a public event? What about personal connections with funders and donors that specific people have?
Some Board members may not know what they have to offer, so it’s a good idea to do a bit of training before you ask them to actively fundraise. While you can ask your friendly neighborhood consultant to help with this, you can also do it yourself! You can ask them if:
- They feel comfortable sharing our campaigns with your friends and family. If they say no, dig into this. Do they participate in Facebook fundraisers when friends post? If so, could they try posting one of their own?
- They have connections to any foundations. Many Board members have a hard time figuring this out in the abstract, so I suggest showing them a list of staff and Board from your foundation prospects, and having them plug those names into LinkedIn to see if they have any connections.
- They enjoy parties and could gather a group to attend one. Maybe they don’t feel comfortable asking for a donation, but do feel comfortable inviting their community to buy tickets to an event. Put them on your event committee!
Remind your board members that gifts of all sizes make a difference. Some people might feel concerned about their networks’ capacity, but gifts of $10, $15, $25 all add up and help you hit your goals. It can be helpful to work with a board member to set a goal of the number of gifts each board member brings in, whether it’s three or five or ten or any number (again, at any $$ level!). Managing expectations and setting clear goals can help make sure that all of your board members are participating in your campaign.
Board meetings can be a great place to prepare for fundraising, but we also know they can quickly get out of hand. Later this month, join us for “Mastering Meeting Facilitation, with Jackie Miller of Bespoken Partners,” our November BA Conversation on how to lead a successful board meeting.
3. Organizing the Campaign
There can be a lot of moving parts in fundraising campaigns, whether it be something as simple as consistent e-blasts to donors and general audiences or something that involves a bit more planning, like mail-merged letter with multiple signatures to a complex list of patrons and partners. Not only do you want to have a clean publications calendar (we suggest a simple spreadsheet!) with dates, themes, and audiences, but you want to share this with the Board weeks before the campaign starts. This gives them time to see what their responsibilities are, and prepare their own schedule to help.
We also suggest creating a tool kit of sample email language, video and image content, and your expectations that you can share with them so they are prepared to help. Review this with them at a meeting, then update them via email each time you need them to participate.
Some ways they can participate in a campaign themselves include:
- Signing mailed letters at a letter stuffing party;
- Sending emails to their personal contacts to ask for support;
- Creating their own fundraising page, if your software allows it;
- Amplifying your message by sharing posts on social media;
- Running their own Facebook or Instagram campaign; and
- Simply helping with manual tasks like mail merges, list deduping, and more.
Once you have a database for tracking who on your board is doing what, make sure to keep everyone on track! Follow up with folks you haven’t heard from, remind them of their outlined responsibilities in their contract, and make sure they know that they can reach out for help.
There are many ways to get your board involved in the fundraising process, but following these three steps will help on getting started and keeping them involved throughout! As always, you can reach out to us with any questions!