Reduce your fundraising stress

If you are responsible for fundraising for a nonprofit you know the meaning of the word stress. It comes with the job. Too often the pressure is on you – and you alone – to ensure fundraising goals are met. You may be a Vice President for Advancement for Advancement with a college, a development coordinator for a local theatre, or the CEO of a national organization. All feel the pressure.

Here is a way to reduce your fundraising stress: build a corps of fundraising volunteers. Engage your board members – one at a time – asking for help with fundraising. You can see changes by the fall.

Week One. Think about who is on your board. Who is most engaged? Attends meetings regularly? Asks meaningful questions? Who gives a meaningful gift each year? Write down the names that come to mind.

Week Two. Set a meeting with each board member who came to mind during week one.  Set it for week three. Write up your fundraising priorities for the balance of the year. How much you have to raise, and what the funds will be used for. Write up where you believe the money will come from. Are you expecting revenue from a special event? One or two grants? Gifts from individuals? Your new online giving program? Direct mail? Write down the amount you expect from each source; the names of individuals, foundations or corporations you believe will give; and dates of special events, or when your direct mail is scheduled to drop.

Week Three. Meet individually with each of the board members you identified in step one. Let’s say the first person you meet with is named Elaine. Share with Elaine the information you wrote down during week two. Share how you plan on pursuing these funds. Ask “what are your thoughts?” Do you think we can reach our goals? What am I not seeing?” Listen for her response. Ask another question, “Elaine, would you be willing to help with one of these projects?” Don’t rush to fill the silence. Listen. Elaine may say yes, or she may say no. But, you have just asked her to help solve “your” problem and in most cases she will offer suggestions for how she can assist, or other ways that you can proceed. Take notes.

Week Four. Write to Elaine and follow up on your meeting. Thank her for her time and for her suggestions. If she made specific suggestions for how she can help, include these in your email or letter. Ask if there is someone outside of the board she would like to involve in her project. Let her know you are available to support her.

Try it and see. Let us know what happens.


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