If you are ready to turn your board around and increase their comfort level with fundraising, Sabrina Walker Hernandez will show you how!

Full Transcript:

Steven: All right. Sabrina, I got start time. So is it okay if I go ahead and kick us off officially?

Sabrina: Oh, yes, please.

Steven: This is great. Thanks to all of you for your patience. And I’m so happy to see a full room. It’s April Fools’ Day, but this is a real webinar and this is going to be a good one. This is not a trick at all and you all are really in for a treat. We are here to talk about the board’s role in fundraising and resource development, one of my favorite topics, and we got one of my favorite people also here to talk about it. So thank you, all, for being here. If you’re watching the recording, I hope you’re having a good day, no matter where you are, but we’re going to have some fun over the next hour or so. I’m Steven, I’m over here at Bloomerang, and I’ll be moderating as usual. 

Just quick housekeeping, just want to let everyone know that we are recording and we’ll be sending out the recording as well as the slides later on today. So look for an email from me later on with those. We’ll get them to you. If you have to leave early, no problem. We’ll get all that good stuff to you. And you’ll be able to share that as well. If you’re going to share this with a board member, that’d be kind of fun too. But most importantly, feel free to chat in your questions and comments along the way. There’s chat box, there’s a Q&A box. I know a lot of you have already introduced yourself. That’s awesome. Keep doing it. We’ll save some time for Q&A. And you can send us a tweet as well. I’ll keep an eye on Twitter. And if this is your first Bloomerang webinar, welcome.

Little plug for Bloomerang. Besides doing these webinars, we’re a donor management software provider. So if you’re curious about that, check us out. But don’t do that right now because we got Sabrina Walker Hernandez joining us from beautiful Texas. Right, Sabrina, you’re in Texas? Where?

Sabrina: I am in South Texas. I’m actually wearing a little sweater because the weather dropped, the temperature dropped.

Steven: It’s cold here in Indy too if it’s cold in Texas.

Sabrina: It’s like 60 degrees here, and that’s unheard of for us.

Steven: For South Texas, that’s . . . Dang. I’m going to send you a Bloomerang blanket because that’s serious. Well, if y’all don’t know Sabrina, dang, she’s been blogging for us. We became fast friends over the last few months and is just an awesome person. You got to check her out. Wow. She’s been an ED. She owns her own consulting shop right now, and I think you’re going to want to connect with her after the presentation. But she’s been in your shoes, like I said, being a leader of an organization and also raising a ton of money and does a lot of these trainings. She’s got an awesome YouTube channel where she does a lot of free trainings as well. And it’s also certified by the Harvard Business School. Jeez, that’s, that’s pretty serious. 

So, Sabrina, thanks so much for doing this. This is a real treat to have you live and in person. All we’ve been doing is emailing and maybe if we weren’t socially distanced, we would have met each other already. But you’re awesome. So I’m going to pipe down because they don’t want to hear from me, they want to hear from you. So I’m going to stop sharing my screen and we’ll see if we can get your slides going here again.

Sabrina: Great. Just let me know if the slides are sharing.

Steven: I don’t think they are. I think you might have to hit the Share button again.

Sabrina: Let me go back. Thank you, first of all, for your space and your grace and everything. And it’s just been . . . Let me make sure we get these slides to share. It’s been balancing a lot as all my CEOs know out there, balancing all of those many hats and we just try to go with what you can go with and prioritize how you can prioritize. So I thank you for that space and grace, and I do say, I will honor your time. You will get exactly the same amount of content and your questions answered in the time that you have allotted for this training. So I want to start off by saying that. And then we’re going to share this screen here and start the presentation from the beginning so that we all know what is going on. So, again, it’s board roles and fundraising and resource development.

I’m so happy to be partnering here. You are worth it. So close your emails out. Close the 20 browser windows you currently have open. Close the door. I should close my door. And ask the kids not to kill themselves or each other for the next hour or so. That is going to allow you to focus. And so, again, I am Sabrina Walker Hernandez, and I studied political science and public administration and I obtained a nonprofit management certification from Harvard Business School and for the last 25 years, I’ve worked in a nonprofit industry. I’ve worked in direct services, operations and executive leadership. 

And in 2018, as you saw, as I hurriedly got on to this to this presentation, I was diagnosed with cancer and I felt I needed to retire. Why? People ask me all the time, “Why do you include that in there?” Because I have worn your hat. And I started my whole company in support of founders, CEOs, executive directors that are out there. Because you are wearing multiple hats, it is very stressful and you have to take care of yourself. And so, with that, I partner with a lot of organizations like Bloomerang that provides free webinars. I conduct free webinars. My whole goal is to service you.

And since my retirement, I’ve started my nonprofit consulting where I help small nonprofit staff and board, build relationships that convert into more donations, and that’s why I do actually love Bloomerang. They really focus on that first-time donor experience, and that is going to turn into repeat donors. 

But today we’re here to talk about board and fundraising. Again, a little bit about what I do, I do workshops, board retreats, webinars, coaching, and consulting. And today those who have benefit from this will be the nonprofit CEOs looking to engage their board members and resource development and fundraising, nonprofit chairs seeking to inspire their board to fundraise and anyone looking to enhance their board resource development and fundraising experience. And the goal of this webinar, once you give me the time, number one, I hope you have an understanding of the role of the board in resource development and fundraising, you’ve learned how to engage the board at each of these roles, and that the staff knows how they can support the board and resource development and fundraising.

And so let’s start off with, what is the role of board members individually and their roles and responsibilities? So their responsibility, one, is to give generously, and we will go into detail on that. Their role is to be an advocate and their role is to participate in resource development and fundraising. And I’m going to tell you how to get them to do it and what the conversation should be about as we go through this because I think a lot of times a lot of people focus in on asking and that is not what it’s about. But I don’t want to put the cart before the horse, so we’re going to take these one at a time. 

So when I’m talking about giving generously, board members need to make their own personal gift. Now, there is a lot of school of thought out there that that’s an antiquated notion. I do not believe that that is an antiquated notion. It is hard to go ask someone else to do something that you’re not willing to do. It also shows commitment when board members give and it makes them a much better fundraiser. They come to the table with a power to say . . . and it gives the CEO . . . I use CEO, executive director, and founder interchangeably. It gives them a great power to be able to say that, “A hundred percent of my board members give, and including myself.” And you’re inviting them to join that process.

And so how do you facilitate that discussion about 100% board giving? Well, it starts with recruitment. And if you don’t have a recruitment process in place, I’m going to encourage you to have a recruitment process in place. A lot of people do the Bubba theory. And what I call the Bubba theory is they place a warm body on their board. They place their mother, brother, sister, or they have another board member say, “Hey, I have this friend. They would make a good board member.” They didn’t vet them. They didn’t say, “What are my gaps on my board? What are the characteristics do I need to recruit for my board?” They just put a warm body on it. 

And they don’t have a process. They don’t have a process where they sit down and say, “Okay. Here are the characteristics that we’re looking for. Here’s the industry that we’re trying to fill, and now here’s a list of potential candidates, let’s interview these candidates.” And when you’re interviewing those candidates, of course, you’re going to ask some questions. You have a set of questions that you ask and you’re going to have your expectations in place. And so those expectations are going to say that, “A hundred percent of our board members give.” And you’re saying that in the recruitment process. So if they don’t want to do that, then they eliminate themselves. But you have an expectation in there and you’re talking about it.

Going down the road, some people say, “Well, what is that expectation? What is the amount?” Like that is something that you and your board need to decide. But I will say this for the board that I had, our expectation was $500 a year. That might be small for some organizations, that might be too big for some organizations, but the board came up with that decision. And for those that kind of balked at that, we changed the conversation. We changed it to that’s $40 a month, that’s $10 a week. So as family, if you can’t invest $10 a week, then you need to question if they’re really family or not. 

And then another tip that I would say is for board members, in general, we set up ACHs, which was automatic drafts. That worked out perfect for us because they automatically came out of their bank accounts, they didn’t have to think about it, and even as they rolled off the board or rolled away from the organization, the automatic drafts still remained in place because most people don’t cancel their automatic drafts. For example, I too, I will not ask my board to do anything that I wouldn’t do. So I gave $500 a year to the organization. And I continue to do so even though I’ve been retired now for two or three years. So keep that in mind. That’s a tip.

The other thing that you’re going to do to facilitate that conversation is you’re going to . . . you or the board chair, depending on how your board is set up, will meet individually with the board members yearly to talk about, “Okay, so where are you at with this? What does it look like?” You’re going to review the annual, you know, commitment form and have that discussion because you have to remember that board members are busy. They’re busy just like you. They have full-time jobs, they’re dealing with diseases, they’re getting COVID shots. They have children, they’re doing all of this. And so the fact that they . . . if you have a give policy in place and they have not given, does not mean that they don’t consider themselves family. It does not mean that they don’t want to. It just suddenly means they got caught up in life and they’re busy and they need to be reminded. 

And so if you have nothing in place, at least having that conversation yearly would be good. But I also recommend that you have a scheduled time every year that you pull out and have the annual commitment form renewed by each board member, and I would do that in January. Although my fiscal year was in October, the calendar year worked and I would do it in January. I will pull it out at our January meeting, revisit it with everyone, have them renew their commitment around resource development and giving, and then we had an accountability process in place.

And so this is where it gets kind of fun. My board actually developed an accountability process where we talked about giving, they’re getting all of that on a quarterly basis. And they actually came up with a competition and an Excel, not me, the board. And so they had an Excel chart that was presented quarterly. Each board member had a give of 500, a give of 5,000 and if it was in the green for that quarter, that meant they were on track. It was in a yellow, they were a little behind. If they went in the red, they were nowhere close. And we talked about it and presented it quarterly. And at the end, those who reached their goal, we had an incentive where they got another board member sponsor taking them out to a fancy restaurant where everybody wanted to go and we paid for the dinner and all of that. That’s how we facilitate it. 

Just remember, it is not personal if they don’t give, it’s just life. They forgot. And so give them, as you have extended to me today, space and grace, give them space and grace. Don’t ask just one time, “Well, we talked about it in January and nobody gave.” They forgot. You know, you’ve been on social media, you know you’ve been on Facebook and you’ve seen these donations you meant to give and you start scrolling and then, “Oh, I got . . . it’s like squirrel. I got caught up in something else.” They’re a human just like you, so it’s the same process. So keep that in mind.

Then around being an advocate, share their personal stories. You have to teach them to share their personal stories, and we’re going to get into that in more detail in what I’m talking about around sharing the personal story. They need to spend time in a nonprofit. And I’m not talking about spending time in the nonprofit as far as coming. If you hold your board meetings in your nonprofit, that is great. That gives them time in the nonprofit. We did. But if not, I’m talking about actually volunteering at a program event, taking off that board member hat and actually doing some hands-on stuff with the clients. That should be one of the expectations of the board members because that is going to give them a true picture of what it means to serve the clients in the community. So, for example, I was with youth services and I provided a annual schedule of all the volunteer opportunities that were available to my board members. Not to come in and say, “I’m a board member and I’m on the schedule to speak and all that.” No it was hands-on.

So we did a Thanksgiving dinner where we served 300 people. We did a Halloween event where we served thousands of community kids. There was several. And so board members, for example, board members signed up to be servers at our Thanksgiving event, that way they actually served the parents and the kids and they actually sat down and had conversations with them. And they saw the need of the community of those families that could not afford a Thanksgiving dinner. At the Halloween event, they worked a booth or they worked registration. And I got to know my board members through these things, and I did it as well. And they fell in love with the different events and they signed up for it every year because they liked getting to know the clients and they liked getting to have those interactions. So they need to spend time in that nonprofit. And it needs to be some type of requirement, whether that’s once a year, volunteer at one event or something like that, that needs to be on their expectation form.

And then finally, you need to dedicate some time to come up with an elevator speech because you want all of your board members to be saying the same thing. And for those that don’t know what an elevator speech is, that is how do you communicate the why of your nonprofit going from one floor on the elevator to the next elevator? You want all your board members to be consistently saying the same thing. And we’re going to talk about how do you get that done as we move further into this presentation. 

So let’s just talk about getting them to participate in resource development and fundraising, right? So let’s just put it on the table. To board members, fundraising is the dirty F word. So let’s just acknowledge it, let’s just accept it. We’re not going to change that. And I actually think of it as the dirty F word too. I know a number of you do.

So know that when you are talking and having this conversation with them, they’re already telling themselves a different . . . I call them ANTs, automatic negative thoughts. They’re already saying . . . They feel bad because they don’t like begging. They already telling themselves, “Well, I don’t know any rich people.” I’ve heard that over and over again. They’re telling themselves, “I don’t like to ask because I don’t like to hear no.” Others are saying, “I am asking for money.” Others are saying, you know, “I don’t like asking my friends or strangers for money.” So we already have all these automatic negative thoughts associated with fundraising. What I want you to do is to flip the conversation because, again, no one joins a nonprofit board to ask their friends and family for money. That’s just our reality. So embrace that reality.

So the other reality that I want you to embrace as the CEO, the founder of the . . . executive director of the nonprofit organization, you have to embrace this. You have to understand that fundraising and resource development is more than asking for money. Actually, the asking for money is about 5% of the fundraising process. But for us, we get stuck in, “Well, my board members is not asking for money. They’re not helping with fundraising.” That is not the case. So we’re going to break it down and we’re going to talk about what the fundraising process is and how boards can participate in the fundraising process. 

So when we’re talking about this, you have to remember that it’s donor-centered and that we’re talking about events. We’re talking about thanking, we’re talking about advocating, we’re talking about cultivating. We’re talking about the giving and we’re talking about learning. So I’m a very visual person. So I want to go over that one fundraising process with you so that you can see it and then you can understand how to plug what roles your board can play and how to plug your boards into those different roles.

So here is the process, right? So this is the fundraising process. Most say five steps, I say six steps. But the first process is identifying who has the affinity and the ability . . . just identifying a list of names. Okay? And there’s a process for that. And then the other one is qualifying, who has the ability and the affinity to give and then stage three is cultivation. That’s my favorite part. That is 60% of the fundraising process, cultivation. And your board can play a huge role in cultivation, and that is a part of the fundraising process. 

The solicitation, the ask, is only 5%. That’s stage four. I add a stage five where I like to follow the model that had stage five, and that’s the process. That’s giving donors time to process the request, to determine a yes or no, and be patient in that process and following up and, you know, doing that. And then their stewardship. Stewardship is about 10% of the fundraising process but I can tell you, nonprofits are horrible at the stewardship piece. And if you spend a lot of time in stewardship and you get board support in that stewardship process, it will change how fundraising is done in your organization. And then basically you repeat steps one through three till you get to solicitation.

So let’s talk about how your board members can participate in the fundraising process, all the way from identifying to the stewardship piece. And so this is what I say. Fundraising, these are the processes. Board members can serve as door openers. They can participate in the fundraising process by opening the door to the eventual ask. They help you identify potential donors, they build relationships with those potential donors, they generate interest in the organization, they show prospects what the organization is all about. They share the history, they share the finances, all of that. 

Now, somebody is sitting in a corner going, “That’s all they doing? They don’t the door opening?” Let me tell you, I had a board member who only did door opening and she was my highest grossing fundraiser for my organization. And she was very honest with me. She said, “I will not ask for money. I don’t feel comfortable asking for money, it is not what I do.” And I had a choice. I can say, “Well, you’re not for this board because that’s where I need you at.” And instead of saying that, I said, “What are you willing to do?” And she said, “I will introduce you to anyone that you ask me to.”

And that’s what she did. She worked in the back, she was a shy person, number cruncher. She worked in the back office of a bank in fraud, so imagine the personality that I’m talking about. But what she did was she introduced me to the bank owner, not the bank president, the bank owner. And as a result of that, the bank owner appointed the bank president as the co-chair of our capital campaign, that was a $12 million capital campaign. So she gets credit for that. 

The bank flew me on a private jet . . . not a jet. I’m elevating the story each time, you know how we exaggerate. On a private plane, I didn’t know banks own private planes, but they flew me on a private plane to talk to the Mabee Foundation in Oklahoma and we got $250,000 gift from there. They appointed two board members to our board of directors and have done so for the last 10 years and each of those members have to raise $5,000 each. They have helped us in marketing. If we have any type of campaign, I can go to that bank and they will pass out anything we ask them to through drive-thru to all of their customers.

So start adding that up. That is a astronomical amount to our nonprofit that we don’t have to, you know, it doesn’t take a lot of work. It just takes sustaining that relationship, using her credibility and me as a CEO, you know, parlaying that into a great relationship. But she never asked for money. All she did was open the door. So don’t be like, “Oh, door openers, they’re getting off easy. They’re not. If you leverage it right, they can be your biggest fundraisers. And I really want you to think about that and what roles you’re using your board members are. 

The cultivators, again, like I keep saying, that’s my favorite part, because to me that’s like dating. Fundraising’s like dating. It’s the courting process. It’s going and inviting them in on tours, doing those kinds of things, you know, because people give to people. That’s the bottom line, donors want to trust and know and like the individuals at the nonprofit organizations that they’re supporting. And so the only way you can do that is build a relationship, and you have to do that before asking for money. You can’t go on a first date, remember I said dating. You can’t go on a first date and ask someone to marry you. So you don’t go on a first date with a donor and ask them to give money. It’s just not the proper courting process and people are going to think you’re crazy. So equate it to dating. And if you do that simple thing, you will understand this process.

So that’s why I love cultivation. Cultivation is like courting. It can connect the organization to the personal contacts with prospects. So I always say it is good to have board members . . . There’s a little formula that I use. The little formula that you use is called five by five. And so what does that mean? It means one board member has five accounts, five people that they’re courting and their goal is to get five touches within a year before we ask for money. Or six months. You have to make that determination based on where the relationship started with the donor and where you’re trying to take them. So if it’s a cold relationship, I say a year. If it’s a warm relationship and they’re already in there with you, maybe about five or six months. 

So what does cultivation look like? It looks like that board member has their five accounts, so I’m going to call them, I’m going to check on them during this COVID process or check on them in general. That’s one touch. I might take them to lunch, or to breakfast, or to dinner, whatever’s convenient for them. I’m going to invite them in on a tour of our nonprofit, if you happen to be facility-based. I may drop off a gift. And when I’m talking about a gift, I’m not talking about a swag gift, I’m actually talking about, “Hey, I know this person is really into horses and I saw like a little miniature statue horse and I’m going to drop it off to the office. I’m not even going to ask for an appointment. I’m going to impress the gatekeeper” because you got to get through the gatekeeper. And I’m just going to approach the gatekeeper and say, “Hey, I know Mr. Hernandez is really into horses. I was at a store. I saw this. Can you make sure that he gets this?” And they’re going to remember that. So I’m not talking about your logo stuff. I’m not talking about your swag stuff. I’m really talking about those personal little inexpensive gifts that makes your donor aware that you are learning who they are and you know what they are into because you have to make the donor the hero. Other things is making sure they get an invitation to an event, whether that event is in person or virtual.

So there are your five touches. And so you have to be really strategic about the touches that you want to make to each of those five individuals that your board members have accounts on. So that’s how you need to strategically approach cultivation. It really is about building that relationship. You can either say every board member can have five accounts that they’re cultivating or you can develop a cultivation team. I think that this is a role that every board member can play in. And because you’re not asking for money, you’re building relationships. And, again, maybe I’m biased, it’s the fun part for me, it’s what I like to do. So keep that in mind, when we’re talking about roles for board members.

The next role is the askers. Now, I had a board of 21 people. I had three people that were comfortable with making the ask who would literally . . . who was comfortable with uttering the phrase, “Will you consider a gift of $1,000 to my organization,” whatever your organization is, 3 out of 21. The other ones were more comfortable. You embrace the term that you want to use, but the other ones were more comfortable with being a sidekick or a wingman. Okay? But board members can contribute to the fundraising efforts by accompanying staff members on face-to-face solicitation, whether they are going to be the asker, or the wingman, or the sidekick, they have a role in that meeting. 

Their role as a board member is to lend credibility to the process. Again, they are volunteers. They’re not getting paid. They’re being there. The donor acknowledges that, that this volunteer is taking the time out to attend this meeting with the staff. And so their role is to lend credibility. Their role is to be there to say, “This is why I support this organization. And not only do I support this organization with my time and my talent, I also support it with my treasure.” Remember I said at the top, every board member should be giving because that shows commitment. So when they’re in meeting, they need to be able to say, “As a board member, I am sharing my time by serving on this board, I am sharing my talent because I serve on committees or this is what I bring to the board and I am sharing my treasure.” And so, again, they’re not asking this donor to do anything that they’re not already doing.

And then the role of the staff is to be able to answer some of those program, direct questions that they may have or anything like that. And then when it comes to the ask, that’s who feels comfortable with the ask, and a lot of times it’s not your board member. It’s your job as the CEO, founder, executive director, whether you’re comfortable or not, that’s your job to utter that statement, “Will you consider a gift of $1,000 to XYZ nonprofit?” And then both of your job is to wait in what I call the golden moment of silence because he who speaks first loses. A culture doesn’t like silence. Most people doesn’t like silence. So ask the question and then wait. And, of course, there’s more to it than that. I am just giving you the brief overview of how that meeting would go. So that’s the role and what role the board members would play. So that is the two different roles that the board members can play in the asking part of it.

And then ultimately, thankers. That’s the final role that board members can play. So four roles, we’ll recap it really quick. So the organization’s fundraising responsibilities are not over once it has received the donation from the donor. The final stage of fundraising is stewardship, is thanking the donor and maintaining a relationship that keeps the donor connected to the organization. So board members can send donor thank you cards, they can make thank you calls. They can let the donor know how to gift was appreciated and that it made a difference to the organization. 

And I’m going to give you a little tip here on how to get your board members involved very superficially initially in the thanking process, and that is at the end of each of your board meetings pass out two or three thank you cards with the script that the board members hand write out in ink pen, give them the ink pen because you want it to stay consistent and then they don’t make it out to anyone, but they sign their name. And then as the executive, you take those stacks, you have them on your desk, when a gift comes in, you actually just add the name at the top of who it’s going to and then you sign your name next to it and you get that out within 24 hours of the gift. You are going to have a stack of them on your desk if you do this at the end of each board meeting.

So that’s just a little tip on something that I know that worked for me. It will become mundane to your board members, why are we doing this each month. But the reason why is the stewardship and to make sure that they receive timely thank yous. And timely thank yous are 24 hours within receiving a gift. And the only way you’re going to be timely in that, wearing the many hats that you do is to create that process of already having those thank you cards stacked up on your desk, you add their name with the same ink pen, that’s why I say I get down to the details with the same color, with the same ink pen, and you add your name as a signature and you send it off. Boom.

So the other thing that you can do right away, because I’m like, “How can you implement this right away?” is asking for board members who will serve on the thank you team. And what does that entail? The thank you team means that when a gift comes through the door, I am going to send you an email, that email is going to have who was the donor, here’s their cell phone number or contact number, and here is how much they donated. Those board members agree to pick up the phone and call and say, “Thank you.” You’re going to provide your board members with the script. You’re going to see why I keep saying this over and over again. 

Now, if you don’t have a group that is proactive like that, one of the other things to create a process is one of your board meetings, you can dedicate to thank you calls for that month or that quarter. You can say, “Okay, the last 20 minutes of this board meeting, here is a list of five people I want you to call right now.” To each board member, have the script, they pick up their cell phones and they make those calls. That’s the accountability because it’s happening right in front of you. Those are just some of the little tips that I learned along the way.

But I will say I have some very responsible . . . two or three responsible board members that I knew if I emailed them, that right away they would make the call . . . they wouldn’t forget and they would make the call. And I’ve had donors say, “Sabrina, your organization is the only one that calls and says thank you. And I appreciate it.” I’ve had that exact quote said to me, and it’s just so much easier to ask for a repeat gift when you do that. And so think about that. 

And then the other thing I’m going to say around thankers is if you don’t have a process in place for your first-time givers, the thankers can help you with that because you have to remember the ultimate goal is not one gift, the ultimate goal is gift number two, gift number three, gift number four. There is a ladder when it comes to fundraising, and that is that first time gift from, you know, moving them up to repeat gifts, moving them up to major gifts, and then ultimately moving them up to a bequests and legacies. So if you know the strategy going in, you understand why the thankers are so important because they are part of that bigger strategy. So they’re not getting off easy. You have to separate yourself from that mentality. It is very strategic in that process. And you have to think of the bigger picture as the executive director.

So there is ways to engage board members’ hearts, minds, and passion for fundraising. And the CEO role, and I like to talk about the CEO role because you guys, you are critical in that role on how you’re going to get your board members engaged in that process. You have to focus your board, you have to inspire your board, and you have to ready your board, and you have to engage your board. And those are all words, right? You’re like, “Sabrina, how do you do that?” So I’m going to give you some simple things that I know that have worked for me and then I use with my clients and it works for them. And that’s not going to stress you out so much. Remember, my whole mission of my company is to not to stress you out, not to add too many hats, but to add some real-life implementation of how you can do this.

And so how do you focus your board? Two things, not to overwhelm you. Mission moment if you’re not starting your board agenda off with a mission moment, you are missing an opportunity. It takes about five minutes at the top of your agenda. And so for me and my organization, what I did was I had a youth come in every board meeting to share their story, to say why they attended our youth center, what they liked about our youth center, what they didn’t like about our youth center, and it gave the board members opportunity to ask them questions. And so board members found out, “You know what, if I didn’t come to this youth, I wouldn’t have anybody to help me with my homework, or I wouldn’t have access to technology, or I wouldn’t have a meal, you know, because my mom works all the time. Or I would go home to an empty house.” Whatever the reason is. 

And the thing about the mission moment is you are creating advocates. Remember we talked about advocates, the board members are becoming advocates because they will remember the stories. They will remember the story of Steven getting up there and saying, “If it wasn’t for this youth center, I would not have a dinner meal. I eat breakfast and lunch at school, but I come here after school because they feed me, and that’s my three meals a day.”

And they will remember Steven’s story. And when they go out to their chamber meeting or they go out to their rotary club or they’re advocating and talking about your organization, they will share Steven’s story, and that story is going to connect with somebody’s heart. If you do this with each board meeting, you’re equipping your board members with 12 stories a year and you’re creating advocates. 

Now, if you’re one of those organizations that says, “Well, well, we serve very confidential clients, you know, women batter shelter, and so we can’t really have them come in and share a story like that.” Or, “We work with foster kids and I don’t feel comfortable with that. I feel like I’m exploiting them.” Because I’ve heard all these things. So that’s what I say you have to get creative. 

I worked with a organization that they worked with abused children. And so what they did was they created an avatar and every kid that came through their program got a teddy bear so they would not feel like they were alone. And so they created a series of videos, not complicated, didn’t charge them a lot. They used their cell phones, but the story was spoken through a teddy bear. The board members understood that that teddy bear went on that journey with that child in every phase of the interview process, meeting with the police department, going to the court system, going into foster care. And that teddy bear told that story. 

And so then, again, we’re not having that child up there, they don’t have to repeat this story, but it’s giving them stories. So think about that. If you work with a battered women’s shelter, think about that bag that is packed in the corner, on wait so that when the abused spouse, when they get to the point where they’re ready to go, that bag has been waiting, and in that bag is maybe Pampers or . . . you tell the story. You have to be creative from that prospect. And I see all the questions, and we’re going to get to them to the end and I’m going to make sure we have time for it.

The other thing that you can do is focus on real outcomes and results. So you can end and incorporate your meeting with outcomes. And I’m not talking about outputs, I’m talking about outcomes. So sharing, we had programs where we talked about, you know, drug and alcohol prevention. And so it’s sharing those like the kids who participated in this program before did not know how to say no to drugs and now after the program they say they feel more confident in saying no to drugs. Whatever those outcomes are, this is where I actually used the ability to bring in other people into my board meetings and to grow them as professionals. So my operations person would deliver this report. You could have a program person deliver this report. And give them some leadership moments in the board meeting, but focus on those real outcomes and results. So that’s two things that you can do. You can try to do both, or you can pick one. But that’s a practical thing that I know that works.

Inspire your board members. You know, make resource development and fundraising fun and have a plan. So remember I talked about them creating that process of keeping track of it quarterly and knowing that they’re going to get awarded with a dinner at an exclusive restaurant at the end. That was fun for my boy. You have to determine and ask your board, “What’s fun for you? What would resonate with you?” And have a board member, you know, work on that and take leadership on that. 

And have a plan. How many times did we go into the year without a fundraising plan? Please, have a plan. And you can break your plan up. It doesn’t . . . I’m going to say don’t overwhelm yourself. You know there’s four quarters in the year. And so if you have a budget goal of $125,000 or $2.5 million, whatever that is, break it up by quarter and say, “What are we going to work on to get to that number by quarter?” So you can look at it on a quarterly basis, but have some type of plan. Don’t just wing it. And then revisit that plan with your board member. Let them know, “This is thought of, and this is where we’re moving to.” Because they will follow you if there is a plan in place. But if you’re going at it half-winging it, they’re going to go at it half-winging it. And so you have to set the tone. Okay?

Then ready your board. And when I say ready your board, have the proper tools and trainings in place. Do you have a board education plan? Is your agenda structured in a way that board education is included on every board meeting for 20 minutes? Things like that. Are you practicing? That could be a part of board education, practice, practice, practice. Let’s sit down and talk about a script. What if a donor says no? How are we going to set up these meetings with these donors? Let’s practice that out. 

And then you’re going to educate them on the donor cycle. Just the way I went through the donor cycle with you, do your board have a true understanding of what that donor cycle is? Do they understand is not just about asking for money? Remember the dirty F word? It is there. It is dirty because they think they have to ask for money. I’ve just informed you that 60% of fundraising is the cultivation process. So if you break down the different roles and say, “Okay. Where do you feel comfortable?” and let them shine in that role, after you educate them, that will move your fundraising forward.

And then you got to engage your board. So what does that mean? Again, what we just said, giving your board the proper role in the fundraising and resource development process and creating a support structure. So I’m going to take this last couple of minutes to talk about the support structure and then I would go . . . Whoa. I went too far. I would go into go into, “Hey, I surprised my . . . You my end . . . ” Anyway, so then I’ll go into what that means and we’ll do the Q&A. 

So this is what I know. What board members want from the staff so they can fundraise easily and effectively, and this is where I think oftentimes CEOs get frustrated because they say, “Well, my board members are not helping.” And I’m going to say this really blunt to you. You’re saying your board members are not helping, but have you orientated them? Did they go through an orientation process? Are you equipping them? Are you making it easy for them? Are you holding them accountable? And are you being explicit? So if you want them to help, you have to do these things. You have to equip them, you have to provide board education, you have to share client stories. You have to create your advocates.

You have to make it easy. You have to give board members scripts, you have to give them social media posts, you have to give them sample letters and emails. They should cut and paste. You want them to do something, you want them to fundraise, do a peer-to-peer campaign, or do an email, asking their friends for money? Well, you got to craft that email for them and say, “Okay. Here’s the email. Here’s the timeline that I want you to send it out.” And then you have to hold them accountable. You have to follow up with them. You have to ensure that they will do what they say they will do. 

So one of the things that I would do after a board meeting, I’m feverously taking notes. And so you you’ll get it. Sally said that she was going to contact Jake about this. And then you’ll walk away, and Sally will walk away, and Sally will forget, and you don’t ask Sally nothing. Right? And then at the next board meeting, “Sally don’t do nothing” because forgot. And then you get frustrated because you like, “She said she was going to ask Jake but she didn’t do it.” Where’s your role in that? 

And your role is this, after the board meeting, you need to reach out to Sally and you need to say, “Hey, Sally, I know you signed up to reach out to Jake. Let me know if you need anything in support of that.” Right? That’s the first email. Don’t wait till the next board meeting. Second email, a week later, “Hey Sally just checking in to see if you reached out to Jake. Let me know. Again, I’m here to support.” And Sally’s going to be like, “Oh, yeah, yeah, yeah. I forgot to do that. I forgot to do that.” So that’s like a tickler. Right? And then hopefully Sally will do something. And if she doesn’t, if you don’t get an email to say, “Hey, yeah. I’ll talk to Jake, and this, and this, and this,” then you week three, you say, “Hey, did you talk to Jake? Do you need my support? Here’s a little sample scripted email that I drafted up for you that you can send him that you can talk about with him on a call.” Right?

And then when it gets to the next board meeting, when, because Sally, you can put on there that hopefully after all of those follow-ups, Sally has reached out to Jay and she can report back to the board that, “Hey, I reached out to Jake and this is where we’re going.” And it’ll show the behavior that you want other board members to emulate. It just doesn’t happen. You have to put work into it. 

And I think that’s where people sometimes fall off the track. And you’re saying, “They are professionals. Why do I have to do that?” They’re professionals in their careers. They’re not professionals in your nonprofit organization. They have families, they have children, they have this. And so to you, but if you’re serving in the CEO capacity, that is your role. Your role is to support them. And then you have to be explicit. You have to be very explicit. When recruiting board members, you have to be explicit about the expectation and you have to have a board expectation agreement and process. 

Now, my final slide, which I just spent some time on, mission accomplished. Hopefully you understand the role of the board and resource development and fundraising, you’ve learned how to engage the board in each of those roles, and you know how staff can support the board and resource development. And I am Sabrina, and now we’re going to do the Q&A. So I am going to stop the share and going down to the Q&A. Is that appropriate, Steven?

Steven: That’s great. I just want to say, thanks. This was awesome. You’re speaking my language. And from what I saw in the chat, you know, people were just right there with you and it seems like they were able to empathize personally with what you were saying. So, yeah, there’s a ton of questions in there. Anything jump out at you? I mean, I don’t want to take, you know . . . 

Sabrina: We’ll just take. Are you going to call them out or . . . 

Steven: Let me call them out here because a lot of them kind of along the same lines. What about people who were kind of feeling that, geez, they’re a board member, they’re already volunteering, I don’t want to ask them for money. Listen, I’m 100% board giving guy, so I’m with you, but what would you say to those people who are like, “Eh, maybe we shouldn’t ask them for money?”

Sabrina: Okay. This is what I say to those people. First, I’m going to be very practical and I’m going to say that there are a lot of foundations out there who will not support your organization unless 100% of board members are giving. That is just facts. I’ve worked with those foundations. I know those foundations. They ask that question in their application process and it’s moving and you’re trying to grow your organization budget, those who are giving the money that you want to get to are asking that question. Now, if you’re doing the Walmart grants and the Target grants and those retail grants, they’re not asking those questions, right? They’re giving you $1,000, $500, maybe $2,000. But if you want those 25,000, 50,000 and above, call it right or wrong, they’re asking that question. And if you want to be eligible for those dollars, then you need to do that.

Second, Sabrina, opinion only. My opinion is if they are elevated to your board, a board member should be giving time, talent, and treasure. If they want to be a volunteer for the organization different from a governing board member or working board member and they just want to give time, that’s fine. We’re not frowning on that. Then they serve on a committee where they don’t have any governing decisions or they serve on a volunteer program. But if you want to call yourself a board member, that is the epitome, that is the ownership of the organization. That I’m only looking for people who can do all three, time, talent, and treasure, because that’s the quality of board member that you want and need to move your organization forward. So this is about being very strategic and growth of your organization and you have to set some standard in place. So that’s my soap box issue. I won’t go too far down the rabbit hole on that.

Steven: I’m so with you. What about people who want to do that but they’ve got an existing board where that was kind of never the expectation? Like you can do . . . Probably easier for new people coming on, but do you have to get rid of all of those people before, you know, what can you do with them?

Sabrina: No. I say start with board education. Have a third-party person come in and say this, “I can be a bad guy.” It’s coming from me. You can say all day long, they’re more than likely will . . . And I’m not saying this . . . I’m just being practical. I’ve served in your CEO role and I roll my eyes every time this happened. I could say something till my face was blue, but then I had a third-party person come in and they said it and the board thought it was like the best thing since sliced pie.

Steven: Isn’t that funny that always happens? It’s so weird.

Sabrina: I was like, “What? Okay.” I’m a consultant, so I’m shooting myself in the foot, but it does not have to be a consultant. For those nonprofits that are struggling with budget like, “I can’t pay nobody to come in and do board education.” What I did in the initial phases is that I reached out to another CEO in another organization who shared the same values with me and we swapped. We did board educations for each other board. So they were hearing it from a third party, not me as my CEO of my organization, because, again, for some reason, when somebody else says it, it’s gold.

Steven: The life of nonprofit folks, it’s just so fun. Hey, Sabrina, you got a lot of people’s gears turning, I think, when you told the story about having the kid come in and present to the board and doing that once a month, the service recipient, right?

Sabrina: Yes.

Steven: How did you do that logistically? A lot of people are asking, how’d you find that person, invite them? Can you unpack that a little?

Sabrina: Yeah. Yeah. So that was actually easy, and I will say it was easy because I worked in youth development. And kids are always cute, right? But really, I wasn’t involved in it as a CEO. It was my program people, if you have program people. And I would just tell them, “Hey, I’m looking for a cute kid that has a story that can come in and talk about this.” And I trusted them to bring me the right kid. They worked with them not extensively, probably like the day before the board meeting and said, you know, “This is what you’re going to do. Go in and tell them your name, your age, what school you go to, tell them why you come to the club.” We had a set of questions, why do you come to the club, what you don’t like about the club, blah, blah, blah. And then the kids would come in, the program staff or my operations, honestly. Operations will come in and stand with the kid, the board would ask them some questions and they would help them through that process. And it took literally five minutes of the board meeting, but it was well worth it five minutes.

Steven: That’s awesome. And you’re a Boys & Girls Club world, right?

Sabrina: Yes. I was Boys & Girls Club. Yes.

Steven: Yeah. Kids, you know? Kids are great, right?

Sabrina: And we met in the building where the kids were at. That’s the other thing. I was intentional about where we met. And we met in the building where the clubs were. One, it was strategic to get the board members there when the kids were there so they can see the program in action. So it was a conscious choice about where we met. Now, if you’re not a facilities-based organization, this is still something that can be done on Zoom. You can send a link to a parent or child and they can come and they can speak or to a client and they can come and they can speak. If you are a scholarship agent, reach out to alumni that have been successful in receiving your scholarship. If you are, you know, like I said, if you’re a homeless shelter or anything with those sensitive confidentiality thing, tell the story from a different perspective. But tell the story. 

Steven: That makes sense.

Sabrina: And you can have the recipient record the video but then you would show the teddy bear or show the bag. 

Steven: Some physical on-premise. Yeah.

Sabrina: Some physical storytelling element.

Steven: That’s great. That’s awesome. Maybe a good last question, Sabrina. There’s a lot of folks on here who have board members who’ve been on the board for over a decade, right? And they’re kind of feeling maybe that they’re not really pulling their weight. So I guess two questions, one, what’s your take on term limits and then two, how do you kind of maybe gracefully . . . 

Sabrina: Exit people?

Steven: . . . bless and release those people if that’s what you should do? Maybe it’s not.

Sabrina: Even if you should do it. Okay. So you’re going to be surprised about my response on this, I think, Steven, and we might not align.

Steven: That’s okay.

Sabrina: I’m afraid to say. But we did have term limits, I will say that, but our terms were renewable. So as long as the board member was performing, we renewed their terms. What we did strategically, we had one-year, two-year, and three-year terms. So anybody that was new that came on our board automatically went into a one-year term, so we could see how they would perform and then we would determine if we would move them into a different slot, a two or three-year term. Now, we had several board members that were in three-year terms and we renewed them six times. So I have board members who served as long as 18 years, 15 years, as long as they were performing.

And what do I mean by . . . Okay. Let’s talk about the people who were not performing. That’s what we started off with one-year terms. But you are saying these people have been here for awhile. And so let’s really answer the question that they are asking. And so when that situation occurs, that’s where a structure needs to be in place, are you talking to board members annually? Are you as a CEO meeting with the board members, getting to know them, finding out what’s going on with them, finding out what their roles are, saying, “Hey, here are the different roles. This is the model where you’re moving to. Where do you feel comfortable?” That’s your conversation with them, but the second conversation is that’s where your board chair needs to be active. That’s a peer-to-peer conversation. Those peer-to peer-conversations need to happen.

And so the board member, if I had any specific trouble with a particular board member, I picked up the phone and I called my board chair and I was like, “Okay . . . ” I didn’t exercise this a lot of times, but I did exercise it when needed. And sometimes you need to be very conscious of who you put in the board chair because there are years where you put . . . And I say you put, I took ownership of my organization, honey. It was not random. And I was very strong in my organization. And I thank my board for that. But you understand some pros and cons and different personalities. And sometimes you have passive personalities and sometime you have, you know, consensus builders in that role. But when it comes down to it, you need to pick up the phone and call the board chair and say, “Hey, I need you to talk to this board member.” It needs to come from you because you lend power to it simply by the position that you hold. And I have had lunch with them and hear their concerns and hear their . . . And feed them as much information as you can. But ultimately, the board chair needs to put some authority behind it.

Steven: I love it. Delegate and . . . 

Sabrina: Delegate. Yeah.

Steven: Dang. This is awesome, Sabrina. There’s a ton of questions here, but can people reach out to you offline? Is that cool with you?

Sabrina: Oh, yeah. Yeah. I love answering questions.

Steven: What’s the best way? LinkedIn or your website. What do you think?

Sabrina: LinkedIn. I have a Facebook group. What’s the best way for you, Steven? Is it to share my email or . . . 

Steven: Yeah. You could put it in the chat or I can include all that stuff in the follow-up email. We’ll do all of those things.

Sabrina: Okay. Yeah. Yeah. Put in the follow-up email and anybody that has a question that’s burning your soul . . . 

Steven: There’s some good ones in here.

Sabrina: I will answer it. And yeah, I see a lot of questions here.

Steven: They need you, Sabrina. Well, yeah. Look her up on LinkedIn, at least, because there’s lots of good stuff there and . . . But I’ll definitely connect you when I send the slides and the recording here later on this afternoon. Give me a couple hours. I’ll get those out the door. But dang, this was awesome. Thanks for doing this, Sabrina. I know you’re, you know, you’re busy and I’m so thankful that you could make this happen because this has been a lot of fun. Thank you.

Sabrina: Yeah. Yeah. I see the questions here and I want to answer them so bad. Can you send this chat? A way send me the Q&A, and maybe I’ll be a little proactive and reach out. If I have a name, I’ll reach out. This is what I’ll do. I’ll reach out to you on . . . find you on LinkedIn and I will respond to your questions if you have a name on your PowerPoint, because some of them have anonymous attendee.

Steven: Right. You know, I’ll get you that chat transcript for sure, so.

Sabrina: Perfect. Yeah.

Steven: And thanks to all of you for hanging out. I know we went a little over, but there was a lot of good stuff, so it was awesome to see a full room and I hope you’re having a good week. And we’ve got a great webinar coming up next week, exactly one week from right now, 3:00 p.m. Eastern next Thursday. Our buddy, Sarah Durham, from Big Duck. Another one of my favorites, she’s going to talk about engagement. Oh, yeah. It’s going to be a good one. She’s one of my favorite presenters. We have her on almost every single year. So if you’re free, join us. And there’s a lot of other good sessions listed on our page. Lots of cool, diverse topics. So check that out because we’d love to see you on another webinar. So we’ll call it a day there. Like I said, look for an email from me with all the goodies and hopefully we’ll see you again next week. Have a good rest of your Thursday. Stay safe, stay healthy, and we’ll talk to you again soon. Bye.

Sabrina: Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Have a blessed weekend.

Steven: See you.

Kristen Hay

Kristen Hay

Marketing Manager at Bloomerang
Kristen Hay is the Marketing Manager at Bloomerang. From 2018 - 2020, she served as the Director of Communications for the Public Relations Society of America's local Hoosier chapter. Prior to that she served on several different committees and in committee chair roles.