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How to be a More Engaged Board Member

In a world full of busyness and distractions, we know it’s easy for things to fall through the cracks for already busy board members and volunteers when it comes to fundraising. We’ve put together a list of tasks and items that we view as the highest priority to know and keep in mind as they’re fundraising for their organization!

Know Your Mission

You can be sure that potential donors, especially those making sizable gifts, will be asking about the nature of your mission and why it’s important. Be sure to know why your organization exists, why it’s more effective than others in the same space, and the priorities of your organization now and in the future.

Write a Check

Make your own gift! As a board member, you’re expected to be the organization’s most steadfast supporter as somebody who has passion for the mission. You can’t expect others to give generously if you haven’t already done so yourself.

Target Individuals

Though from the outside, it may seem like corporations and foundations would be a good investment of your time to target, data shows that nearly 70-80 percent of contributions come from individuals. Don’t ignore the data and spend a disproportionate amount of your time chasing after the wrong crowd. Focus most of your efforts on individuals with a link or relationship to your organization.

Focus on the Few & Know Them Well

From literally thousands of campaigns and decades of experience throughout the industry, we know that 80 percent of the funds typically comes from 20 percent of the donors. To reach your fundraising goals, you’ll need to devote most of your time to identifying, cultivating, and soliciting your top prospective donors. While ignorance may be bliss in some cases, this cannot be said for fundraising… Before sitting down with these individuals, you need to learn a good deal about them. What are their values, their desires and aspirations? Prospect research is usually the difference between success and failure.

Seek Proportionate Gifts & Name a Specific Amount

Using a “one size fits all strategy” in fundraising is not the best strategy. If you are looking to raise $100,000, some might argue, “We just need $1,000 from 100 people.” Taking this approach limits those who may be willing to give $5,000 or more! Others may not be able to give $1,000. Know your donors and seek proportionate gifts - Don’t be afraid to respectfully name a specific amount. Try something like, “We’re hoping you’ll consider a gift in the range of $5,000” or “Will you consider joining me in giving $5,000 to this worthy cause?”

Disregard (Most) Publicity

Many novices to fundraising believe that publicity equals money. They are hopeful that the media will do the heavy lifting on getting the word out. To raise substantial money, sitting down face to face with your potential donors is the best approach. The media won’t have the passion or understanding that you do in regards to your organization. Sitting down and explaining your mission and passion - and why it should be theirs, too - will get the job done!

Beware of Special Events

Like honeybees to nectar, board members are often drawn to special events. What’s not to love? It’s easy to get excited about fun times, especially when the costs of printing, flowers, decorations, music, and rentals are ignored. In terms of worthwhile effectiveness, special events actually rank near the bottom when trying to raise funds. Though this may be an uncomfortable truth for you, we’ve said it before and we’ll continue repeating: sitting down with potential donors face-to-face ranks FIRST in effectiveness.

Avoid Drift

It’s as simple as this - the more time we have to complete a task, the longer it takes us to get it done. As far as fundraising is concerned, one of the most important things that needs to happen to avoid drift or paralysis to occur is a detailed timetable of who does what and by when. Everybody working to make it happen needs to hold strictly to the timeline and be accountable for their work!

Remember to Ask

Donors give for a variety of reasons - They believe the organization is trustworthy, effective, or supporting a cause they believe in. However, most people won’t be calling or hunting you down to give to your cause without you first asking them. When you are sitting down face-to-face, explaining the mission behind your organization, you are likely to get a more generous donation - Many are just too nervous to ask.

Don’t Apologize

Finally, no need for apologies. As Kay Sprinkel Grace, author of many books on fundraising, succinctly puts it: “It’s not begging when a donor’s gift provides housing for the homeless, food for the hungry, scholarships for deserving students, or medical help for those with chronic conditions. It’s not begging when the organization, on whose behalf you are asking, is stable, accountable, and successful in its work. By no means is it begging; it is an investment you seek.”

If you’ve been contemplating whether now is the right time for you and your organization to begin that Capital Campaign for your big project you’ve been dreaming of, don’t wait any longer! Email today to schedule your free consultation and we can help you determine if now is the right time for you! We look forward to hearing from you!

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