Tip #8: Help them ask for money. Some board members may be uncomfortable with asking for donations. Give them a hand by providing your Case Statement, Ideal Donor Profile, and list of funding needs. Provide them with suggested presentation templates, solicitation scripts, and marketing materials they can leave behind. Arrange for some training. Schedule participation in a class, bring in an outside expert, or devote time (in or out of board meetings) for board and staff members to practice, rehearse and coach one another until ‘making the ask’ feels natural. Make sure that no board member is ever required to call on a donor solo; always provide additional staff support. Revenue development is a professional skill, and it’s not fair to assume that all board members have equal skill or talent for the work.
Tip #9: Track performance. Set up specific performance targets for fundraising, using so-called “leading” indicators, that is indicators that take place before the money comes in the door. Consider such indicators as growth in size of prospect database and growth in numbers of proposals under discussion with wealthy individuals and corporate sponsor prospects. The Executive Director should collate such data on a regular basis and report on it at every board meeting. Constant attention to the realities of the fundraising process will institute an important discipline for all.
Fundraising is a critical, strategic function that needs and deserves strong leadership. It’s not “somebody else’s” job, it’s everyone’s. And it’s not enough to simply assume that board members will do the work without being asked, without tools, and without training. We encourage board members to take this message to heart and build on these simple tips to create effective fundraising disciplines.
Ellen Bristol founded Bristol Strategy Group in 1995 after a 27-year career in the information technology industry. She developed the firm’s flagship methodology for business development, Selling the SMART Way®, and its nonprofit variant Fundraising the SMART Way®, to add some science to the art of business development. Her innovative approach makes it easy for nonprofits small and large to produce consistent, predictable fundraising results. Visit www.bristolstrategygroup.com for more details or click here for help.