There is one common goal among anyone who has ever engaged with your organization. Whether someone donates money, volunteers their time, joins your staff, or serves on your board of directors, it’s because they want to do their part in furthering your nonprofit’s goals!
As you know, advancing your mission requires an all-hands-on-deck approach. Yet, many fundraisers find themselves asking, “why isn’t my nonprofit’s board fundraising effectively?”
No, it’s not that your board doesn’t care. They wouldn’t be here if they didn’t believe in your mission!
It’s time to look inwards. Instead of getting stuck wondering why your nonprofit’s board struggles to fundraise, ask if you’re equipping them with the tools to be successful.
Here are some of the common reasons board members don’t fundraise and how you can help your leadership be more effective:
1. Make sure they understand your message.
Hopefully, you have a process for training new board members to talk about your organization’s work. But is the training you provide up to date with the current state of your nonprofit’s mission?
Or maybe it has been a while since you revisited your mission statement? Your nonprofit’s board’s fundraising will be held back if they’re not in tune with how your mission has evolved and how to share that message.
If you know us at amplifi, you’ll be familiar with this exercise:
State your organization’s mission without using any of the words in your mission statement.
Now, ask your board to try it!
Their responses will allow you to gauge how in tune board members are with your nonprofit’s established brand and messaging. And they will guide you in clearing up any misunderstandings so you can train your leadership to communicate more effectively.
After formal re-training, consider providing your board members with a “cheat sheet” index card. This way, they can remind themselves of the core parts of your mission and key talking points before they engage in conversations.
2. Show them your mission in action.
As your organization’s governing body, it is your board of directors’ duty to ensure your assets are working efficiently to achieve your goals.
But if you find that your once-passionate board is just going through the motions, it’s probably because too much of their time is being spent on spreadsheets and by-laws. These are important items, sure. But they’re not the most exciting and can dull the most passionate board members over time.
But you need excitement and enthusiasm to get your nonprofit’s board fundraising effectively! So, make time for your leadership to get out, experience your mission in action, and talk to the people you serve.
So, consider inviting someone who has benefited from your work to your board meetings. Set aside a few minutes in the beginning so they can tell their story and share your organization’s impact on their life.
Your nonprofit’s board will fundraise more effectively when they are living your mission. And they will better understand why your organization’s work is so important.
This will help them make a stronger and more natural ask when the time comes. So, make sure you set your board members up for success!
Now, they can share a first-hand account of their recent experience when they ask a key donor to upgrade. Or even invite the donor along next time so they can see for themselves before they commit.
Seeing is believing. And if you want your nonprofit’s board to fundraise more effectively, they need to see your mission in action.
READ MORE: How to show the impact of every donation.
3. Train them seal the deal.
Your board members might be great at having conversations and building relationships with donors. But they are not professional fundraisers.
So, unless they have a sales background, they might not be comfortable “closing” or know when to make the ask. It’s your responsibility to show your nonprofit’s board how to ask for donations more effectively.
This is a loaded topic. But helping your board members see opportunities to make an ask where they might not have before is a great first step.
For example, let’s say your nonprofit recently held an event and got a lot of new donors from an auction. You might ask some board members to give attendees a call and thank them again for coming.
So, why not train them how to ask a few questions that help determine if a donor is willing to do more. Teach them to talk about how the event furthers the mission rather than the event itself.
This will help your board members steer the conversation towards other ways someone can make an impact. If the donor seems excited, they might be willing to give again right away.
Board members can fundraise more effectively if they know how to pick up on these signs and follow up with an ask. So, show them how!
4. Give them the tools to be successful.
Think about all the things your development department needs to do their job. Would you expect your staff to fundraise effectively without a proper donor database or an automated email system?
Yet, you wonder why your nonprofit’s board struggles to fundraise when you haven’t equipped them with the tools they need!
So, ask yourself if there is more you can do to help your board.
Their phone calls shouldn’t feel scripted. But you’ve given board members a template to work from, right? Have you offered to practice with them?
It’s also not a bad idea to help your board of directors with their emails. Again, a template method that allows your board to fill in the blanks with their own insights is a solid approach.
And don’t forget to walk your leadership through your regular communications strategy. Your board of directors can fundraise more effectively when they know what donors are already hearing. So, make sure they have access to your new donor welcome package. It will help them understand how your organization builds relationships and inspires donors to continue and increase their support.
5. Ask how you can help.
And of course, sit down and talk with your board! Ask them what scares them the most about fundraising. Find out if there are any areas they already want to improve on.
In many cases, board members know why they are having trouble fundraising. But they don’t know how to fix it!
There can be many reasons why you’ve grown frustrated with your nonprofit’s board’s fundraising efforts. But apathy is not one of them. Your board members want to do everything they can to help your organization. After all, serving on a board of directors is a huge commitment.
We’re all pulling on the same rope. And it’s impossible to make a difference and change the world by ourselves. So, help your board, help you. Make sure you give them the tools they need to be great fundraisers!