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Mayes Wilson & Associates

4 great ways to involve board members in fundraising

Julie Whelan Capell |

One of our most-requested board workshops here at MWA is on involving board members in fundraising. I always enjoy doing this workshop because I love hearing the sighs of relief when I say:

“Not every board member needs to ask for gifts.”

And that is the truth. Not everyone is cut out to ask for gifts. It’s also the truth that with a little training and a lot of practice, many people can learn to be good “askers.” But it’s definitely not for everyone.

So the next obvious question is, how can board members who are not “askers” get involved in fundraising? I like to frame the answer in the context of the entire cycle of fundraising.

Asking is only one small part of the complete cycle of fundraising. Before we can even get to the ask, we must first identify prospects and then build relationships with them. Only then can we sit down for the ask. And then after we get the gift, there’s still more work to do! We need to thank our donors and continue working to deepen their relationship with our organization.

So, based on the cycle of fundraising, below are some “non-ask” fundraising tasks for board members.

Four great ways to involve board members in fundraising

  1. Ask board members to brainstorm people they know. Prompt for connections in their neighborhoods, workplaces, churches, kids’ schools, etc. Then have them assess which of these people might have an affinity for your organization’s cause. This makes an excellent beginning list that, with more research, could yield many promising prospects.
  2. Identify all the organizational events to which board members could invite prospects. The obvious events are galas or other fundraisers, but I encourage you to think more broadly. If you’re an animal shelter, invite prospects on a tour of the facilities. If you’re a youth-serving agency, invite them to a day at camp. If you’re a land trust, invite them on a hike or a canoeing expedition to see one of your conserved areas. At the event, make sure the prospect gets one-on-one time with someone (hint: could be a board member!) who has been prepped to not only explain your organization, but also LISTEN to what the prospect says about their own values and what they find most appealing about your work. Engaging in a true back-and-forth conversation will build a relationship and let them know you see them as a person, not a bank account.
  3. Have your board members make thank you calls to all your major donors. Calling them right after they make their gift will automatically set your organization above most others. Keep your message simple. A heartfelt and simple “Thank you” and a short explanation of how their gift is making a difference is all that is needed.
  4. Board members are the perfect people to help deepen donors’ relationships with your organization. One idea is to ask board members to send personalized video messages to donors. This is becoming easier and people love getting them. The idea is for a board member to pick their favorite organizational program or activity, capture some video of it on their phone (30 seconds), and then add on a short personal video message, like “Hi, I was hiking on our newest trail and I thought of you. Maybe we could meet out here sometime and hike together.”

These are just a few of the “non-ask” ways that board members can help with fundraising. What are some ways you have tried?


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