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3 Ways to Re-Engage Your Tired, Veteran Board Members in the Annual Campaign

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When you have all your board members fully involved in your annual campaign, the energy is palpable and the results are impressive! And yet, it’s consistently an area of struggle for nonprofits.

Rather than accept this as just the way things are, ask yourself if you’re treating your long-time board members at least as well as you treat your major donors. They’ve been involved for years, hearing the same old thing, being asked to do more every year during the campaign. They’re still passionate about your cause but they may have simply run out of energy and ideas.

They need creative ways to continue to broaden your reach year after year in the annual campaign.

Just like other donors, they are all different too. They are motivated differently, they have varying degrees of social capital, they have different personalities. Expecting the same kind of involvement from all your volunteers isn’t realistic. Are you applying your donor-centric segmenting strategies to your veteran board members also?

Here are three ways to re-engage your veteran board members who are tired, who have worked hard to introduce people to your organization, who feel like they have no more to give.

1. Include them in the development or review of your donor profile.

When was the last time you took a good look at the information you have on your most loyal and largest donors? Regardless of your size, you need to know the characteristics of these donors so you can be efficient when growing your donor base. And your veteran board members can play an important role here.

Sit down with them and discuss the donor data you have like age, gender, where they live, are they involved in certain industries, how often/when are they donating, where do they gather (e.g. church), do they tend to have kids etc. One small nonprofit was amazed to realize that almost 70% of their most loyal donors were women over 50 with accounting careers!

What you can expect: your veteran board members will expand their knowledge and perhaps be able to help identify more prospects now that they have a clearer picture of who is most likely to support you; you may discover you need to capture more information on your donors to round out your profile before the campaign begins. Additionally, your veteran board members can now share this information with other board members – let them lead the conversation at a board meeting to inspire others and further re-engage them in your annual campaign.

2. Invite them to host – this can be a reception at a board member’s home or business, or an on-site tour for potential new donors before the campaign kicks off. For those tired volunteers, it’s great because they don’t have to come up with the guest list!   This is a smaller gathering that highlights the community need and then the impact of your organization. Other volunteers, donors, vendors, staff can build the guest list and the veteran board member simply needs to provide the appropriate reception venue and perhaps donate some food and drink if they can OR just show up at your site.

What you can expect: your veteran board member will be proud they could play a role, be inspired by the interesting new people they met and you can check off a successful event from your cultivation list. And of course, you can involve your veteran volunteers in the follow up to expand your donor base which may be a new tactic for them.

3. Encourage them to participate in donor meetings or calls. 

We know that stewardship is critical to long-term value and sustainability. And you can’t do it all. Why not ask your experienced board members to join that effort? Identify the donors who would benefit from a deeper or shared relationships, or the new donors that no one knows well yet. Again, if you’re going to be donor-centric, you need to know as much about your donors as possible. Utilize your veterans to find out these key things before your next campaign kicks off:

  • How did the donor first get connected with your organization?
  • What inspires them to give?
  • How else might they be interested in being involved? (e.g. speak on behalf of the organization, serve on a committee, consider a legacy gift, raise money, etc.)
  • Share future plans and get feedback.
  • Who else do they know who might care about this cause?

What you can expect: Your worn-out board members will be inspired by these new conversations, especially when they realize they’ve played a part in increasing retention rates; you’ve spread out the work and educated them to be ambassadors for the long haul and they can model this for newer board members.

Bottom line – we see repeatedly that given new opportunities, your veteran members will rise to the occasion. It’s a great leadership development strategy too! Each veteran board member is different and you need to think about what engagement strategy might work best for each.

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  • Ron Newlin

    This is one of the most important blog posts I've ever read. In addition to all the pro-active benefits suggested here, there's this "defensive" benefit: If you are an ED or DD hired to reverse a declining trajectory, you need to get the worn-out board members on your side. This is a great way to do it without Just shouting "Once More Into the Breach!"
  • Adam Clevenger, CFRE

    Great recommendations, Cindi. I've also used veteran volunteers to help train and mentor newer volunteers.
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