Our work as fundraisers revolves around our donors. We spend our time securing gifts, building and maintaining relationships and engaging our donors with the missions of our organizations. However, we can’t go at this alone. Often our best connectors to our organizations are our Board members. Gone is the day where we worked to recruit the Board member because we needed someone with the expertise in law or finance or marketing. While we do look to our Board for sound advice and recruit those best to guide and lead our missions, we need them to be fundraisers more than ever before!
Eighty five percent of gifts to not for profits today come from individuals…a family that makes a gift at year end, a decision-maker at a corporation that is approached for sponsorship or a foundation officer that you’d like to discuss a funding opportunity for a new program. These gifts all come from different sources but ultimately rely on a relationship with an individual.
Fundraising is a relationship business…and our board members are often our best partners. I know what you are thinking…it’s not always easy to get Board members engaged with fundraising. Many aren’t comfortable asking for gifts. While you are busy educating and working with your Board to become more comfortable in their role as fundraisers, here are a few ways your Board can help you without directly asking for a gift…
Enlist your Board members to…
- Make a phone call to that donor that your board member is connected to that has been tough to reach. “Hi Joe, I know you’ve been really involved with our organization and we are grateful. Our Director of Philanthropy, Susanna, has some exciting news about a new effort that I think you’d be excited about. Please look for her call in the next week. “
- Place thank you calls to top donors. “Hi Janet, as you know, I’m on the Board of X Organization and just learned of your generous support. I’m simply calling to say thanks…”
- Write personal notes on thank you notes to key donors. The note can read…”Beth and James, We are so grateful for your support. Thank you for all you do!”
- Host a gathering for major donors at their home. It’s just a party to say thanks and allows for a “feel good” opportunity to say thanks and briefly report on how their gifts make an impact.
- Invite a friend (your best new prospect) to a program at your organization for a first engagement to experience “hands-on” how your mission makes a difference.
When we provide our Board members with some specific tools they feel comfortable using to engage and cultivate donors, we are well on our way to getting our Board members ALL ABOARD with fundraising.
This column was created by Susanna Decker. Susanna has been a fundraising professional in the Chicago area for close to 25 years…she’s been a part of the Laurus Strategies team for almost three years. She began her career as a grant writer for the YWCA of Metropolitan Chicago, spent more than 15 years in a variety of roles raising money for health care related organizations and now focuses on major gift work for various non-profits.
Headquartered in Chicago, Laurus Strategies has a passion for helping nonprofits advance their mission. Laurus Strategies’ Non Profit and Public Affairs Consulting Group provides a wide range of fundraising, strategic planning, training and leadership services with a proven track record of success. Together, the team has over 80 years of experience and has helped clients raise over $650,000,000.