Tag Archives: nonprofit board

How to fundraise without a powerful board

Empower

Fundraising in an Imperfect World– Part Two

What if your nonprofit isn’t comprised of people with power, wealth and influence? What if your board chair can’t pick up the phone and raise $1 million? How do you compete when you feel other organizations are supported by power-brokers and you can’t get your message heard?

Here are our thoughts. Use the assets available to you. Build a team and relationships that will serve you for the long run. You may be surprised by the resources and riches available within your network. Here are some suggestions to consider.

First, remember it’s hard to raise money from behind a desk. You have to be constantly out in the community making the case for your organization or institution and developing relationships. This is your work as CEO. It’s also the work of board members and your development director or vice president. Get the pulse of your community and find ways to implement your vision in partnership with others. Take names! Build your list of contacts. Stay in contact. Don’t depend on social media for your communication – build and nurture mutual relationships.

Consistently grow your list of prospective donors. If you need to raise $250,000 we recommend creating a list of people, businesses, foundations and granting agencies who can give a combined total of $750,000. You don’t have the luxury of assuming people will give the amount you request: you need enough prospective donors to cover the reality that not everyone gives. Even if you think it is a “sure deal” make sure you have a Plan B.

Talk with your staff, advisors, board members and friends. Ask them who they know and who they can influence. It’s not only high profile people who can open doors! You don’t know who knows who – if you don’t ask you may be missing an opportunity. For example, our experience has shown that barbers, hair stylists, maids, waiters and waitresses have the pulse of a community.

Keep it personal. If there is someone within your organization who knows a donor or volunteer, ask them to take the time to personally thank those who give their time and money.

Always debrief with your development director. Let him know who you are visiting. Make sure contact information for those you meet is entered in your database. Don’t assume you are the only person with relationships: ask team members for suggestions before going into a “big meeting.”

Become politically astute – know your government leaders and make sure they know you and the priorities of your organization.

You may feel frustrated that your board or staff need to “catch up” with you. Don’t let that get you down. It is your responsibility to communicate with passion and vision, set direction, and invite others to join you.

Additional reading: 10 Solutions for a board who won’t fundraise 

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Mel and Pearl Shaw are the authors of “Prerequisites for Fundraising Success” and “The Fundraiser’s Guide to Soliciting Gifts.” They provide fundraising counsel to nonprofits. Visit them at http://www.saadandshaw.com. Follow them on Twitter: @saadshaw.

Ten solutions for a board who won’t fundraise

Fundraising in an Imperfect World– Part One

fundraising, FUNdraising Good Times, nonprofit board, Saad&ShawWhat do you do if your board doesn’t have the connections, experience or willingness to be involved in fundraising? How will your nonprofit secure the money and resources it needs to deliver on its mission?

We encourage board-led fundraising. We believe that when board members are actively involved in fundraising the nonprofit organization or institution will be more successful. Board-led fundraising includes active involvement in determining fundraising goals; identifying, cultivating, soliciting and stewarding donors; making a gift of their own; and engaging others in giving and fundraising.

But what if your board is reluctant to fundraise or simply refuses to “give and get?” There are many reasons for this response. Members may not have been recruited to fundraise. They may be engaged in campaigns for other nonprofits. They may not know how to provide guidance and direction as it relates to fundraising.

If you find yourself in this position here are 10 things you can do as a nonprofit executive:

  1. Appeal to your board to increase their participation in fundraising in spite of original board responsibilities which might not include fundraising
  2. Visit each board member individually to learn more about the “hidden gems” – those ways an individual board member could be of service, or the reasons for reluctance to fundraise
  3. Take your board on “field trips” to observe other nonprofit boards in action
  4. Ask board members to recruit someone they know – who has experience fundraising – to work with each as a partner. Working in teams with colleagues from outside the board can build capacity and expertise.
  5. Develop an alternative fundraising group such as a development taskforce, advisory council, special development committee of the board, or friends committee. These are people who can open doors, solicit, and provide guidance and strategy. They should be recruited with an explicit request to assist with fundraising.
  6. Hire a consultant to work with the board to help increase their knowledge of fundraising responsibilities and ability to participate in fundraising
  7. Assume more responsibility for fundraising. You and your staff will have to be more active and proactive.
  8. Scale your fundraising needs/goals to meet the capacity of board members and staff.
  9. Work with board members to determine which fundraising projects they could take the lead on. This can help build experience and confidence and hopefully increase their appetite for more involvement. Don’t involve board members in a big project they don’t have the capacity or experience to achieve.
  10. Keep the board informed on a consistent basis regarding the status of fundraising, funds received, prospective donors identified, potential shortfalls or surpluses and the implications.

We live in an imperfect world. Work with your board, recognize their strengths and offset their challenges.

Image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Mel and Pearl Shaw are the authors of “Prerequisites for Fundraising Success” and “The Fundraiser’s Guide to Soliciting Gifts.” They provide fundraising counsel to nonprofits. Visit them at http://www.saadandshaw.com. Follow them on Twitter: @saadshaw.

Six Things You Can Do As a Board Member

InitiativeCalling all nonprofit board members: Do you sometimes wonder what value you bring to the nonprofits you serve? Do you wish you were more engaged, or that “they” took more advantage of the talents you bring to the board? We have the solution for you: take initiative! Don’t wait for someone to ask you to get involved.

Here are six things you can do between now and the next board meeting to energize yourself and your fellow board members. Choose one or more that sounds like fun to you. Each can help engage new supporters, increase awareness and raise money. These tips work if you are involved with university, a grassroots organization, or any size nonprofit in-between.

First, write a thank you note or personally call a donor to thank them for their gift. Allocate five minutes for the conversation. Ask what encouraged them to give and what attracts them to your organization. Listen. Respond to any questions they may have. Thank them again.

Second, invite a potential supporter to visit the organization’s facilities and observe its programs. Agree on a date and time to meet at the nonprofit and tour together. Request that a staff member join you – one who can share information and answer questions.

Third, visit staff members to get to know them and ask “what can I do to help?” Follow through on what you learn.

Fourth, have lunch with a fellow board member to discuss how the two of you can work together to increase awareness or raise funds. Hatch a plan that can be implemented without staff involvement. Follow through on your ideas.

Fifth, make arrangements to speak before a local organization to share information about your nonprofit. It could be your church, the rotary, or your book club. Keep your comments brief and engaging.

Sixth, host a small fundraising event. Invite a few close friends and associates to your home or office for coffee or an evening glass of wine. Spend five minutes sharing information about the nonprofit you serve and ask each guest to make a gift equal to or greater than your gift.

Before implementing these suggestions, take a moment to identify the three things you want to communicate about why you give your time and talent to serve on the board. Share these in conversation or through your presentation. Let people know you are accessible if they have questions in the future, or if they want to get involved. Share your contact information. Bring a simple brochure to share.

Anyone of these activities will extend the reach of your nonprofit. They will energize you. You will have something new to report at the next board meeting. Don’t wait for someone to “assign” you to a task. Jump in!

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Mel and Pearl Shaw are the authors of “Prerequisites for Fundraising Success” and “The Fundraiser’s Guide to Soliciting Gifts.” They provide fundraising counsel to nonprofits. Visit them at www.saadandshaw.com. Follow them on Twitter: @saadshaw.

Three Ways to Improve Board-Staff Communication

nonprofit board, nonprofit communication, chair – CEO relationship, board meetings, SaadandShawEngaged and effective nonprofit board members are the dream of board chairs and executives. “Ah, if only our board members were more engaged….” is a common refrain. “I can’t keep fighting my board,” is another. Board members also have concerns, “I don’t know why we have board meetings: the executive makes the decisions, and expects us to rubber stamp them.”

One perspective reflects a desire for board members to attend meetings regularly, to come prepared, to work with other board members between meetings, and to provide guidance and oversight that reflects a deep understanding of the organization or institution’s work. The second reflects a frustration, usually on the part of an executive, that board members are not in alignment with the executive’s vision and strategies. The third speaks to board members confusion and disengagement.

There is one tactic that can assist with these three challenges: open, honest, in-person communication. Scheduling and thoughtfully preparing for conversations prior to a board meeting can change what happens at the meeting. It sounds simple, but it takes time, requires preparation, and needs to be applied consistently.  The following are three suggestions for how to employ this tactic.

First, if you are a board chair make sure you know the vision of your executive. What is she seeking to accomplish? How does she want to accomplish it? What will be the impact? What will it cost? What does she need from the board for the organization or institution to bring her vision to life? Take time to learn her leadership and communication styles. Meet with her regularly and strategize how to best engage the full board and committees in advancing her vision. Work with her to create the board agenda, ensuring the concerns of both board members and the executive are included.

Second, if you are an executive take the time to meet regularly with your board chair, to share your strategic thinking, to ask for counsel, and to provide updates on operations. Form a partnership that acknowledges and respects your board chair’s leadership, vision, expertise and position. Asking for guidance and creating a shared agenda can help surface best thinking and create a strong partnership.

Third, both the executive and the board chair should take time to meet individually with board members prior to each board meeting. This is especially important if the board meets quarterly, or less often. Each of you need to personally share updates, gain insights and involvement from individual board members. Take the time to share organizational updates and challenges, successes, strategies and potential challenges. Listen to each board member’s concerns, interests and ideas. Act on those you can.

It takes time to have these meetings. It also yields results. A nonprofit’s board is one of its most valuable resources. Take the time to strengthen your relationships.

Image courtesy of Ambro / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Mel and Pearl Shaw are the authors of “Prerequisites for Fundraising Success” and “The Fundraiser’s Guide to Soliciting Gifts.” They provide fundraising counsel to nonprofits. Visit them at www.saadandshaw.com. Follow them on Twitter: @saadshaw.