Board members play a critical role in the fundraising process. It is not just about soliciting or making the ask for donations. I would argue, there are many roles in the fundraising pathway, and each is equally important to raising money.
So how can you involve “ALL” of your board members in your fundraising?
1. Door Opener — Board members can participate in the fundraising process by opening the door to the eventual ask. They can tell prospects about the history of the organization and share their enthusiasm for the organization’s mission to encourage giving. This provides your organization with instant credibility.
Many nonprofits overlook the importance of leveraging their board members for donor referrals. Board members tend to be influential public figures who have achieved success in their career paths and are well connected to lucrative potential donors. Don’t be afraid to ask your board members to reach out to their personal connections to start the donor cultivation process.
2. Cultivator — It is true what they say, “people give to people.” Donors want to trust and like the individuals at the organizations they support. Cultivation is about building relationships before asking for money. They can connect the organization to cultivation by making personal contacts with prospects. A good practice is for board members to “touch” 5 donors each a minimum of 5 times in a year. Whether that is soliciting their advice, inviting them to an event or a tour, setting up a coffee, breakfast, or dinner chat, or simply making a telephone call. This is an important process in fundraising that cannot be skipped.
3. Sidekick— Board members can contribute to fundraising efforts by accompanying staff members on face-to-face solicitations. Don’t worry if you only have 2-3 who feel comfortable with this role. It is not unusual. The few and the brave is all you need.
The staff should schedule an ask meeting and let the prospect know in advance that he or she will be receiving a visit from them and a board member who is very passionate about the organization and who will ask for a generous donation. Therefore, the board member should be passionate about the organization.
4. Thanker — An organization’s fundraising responsibilities are not over once it has received a donation from a donor. The final stage of fundraising is donor stewardship — thanking the donor and maintaining a relationship that keeps the donor connected to the organization. Sadly, I’ve experienced too many organizations that don’t thank their donors. They take for granted the generosity of others leaving donors feeling unappreciated and unacknowledged.
Board members can send donors a thank you card, make a thank you call, and let the donor know the gift was appreciated and that it made a difference to the organization. They can keep major donors involved with the organization through invitations to special events or periodic updates.
By maintaining a relationship with previous donors, the organization increases its chance of receiving future gifts from these donors and moving them up the donor ladder.
As you can see, many of the roles do not require board members with making the ask themselves! Instead, they’re all part of your board members’ responsibility to ensure necessary resources.
Whatever role they start in can also evolve. As board members grow in their fundraising confidence, they may want to take on a new challenge and embrace a new role. Either way it is a win for the mission.