When deploying a strategy for donor engagement, nonprofits can always rely on fundraising software to help. CRM and analytics tools can organize research and keep track of existing donor relationships, interpreting this data and lending perspective for a clear course of action.
Of course, no one can carry out a logistics plan without willing participants. Fundraising requires a far reach, and the most successful outcomes rely on teamwork between staff, volunteers and board members. For the latter, raising money is an often-overlooked part of the job.
Here's what organizations can do to engage their board in fundraising:
No one's a natural
First off, raising capital is not an intuitive task for anyone. The good news is that absolutely anyone can learn the craft of fundraising, said Nonprofit Hub. The key is to provide novices with some guidance.
If a nonprofit executives clearly outline roles when appointing board members, then no one will be surprised when he or she is asked to participate in the fundraising mission. Once a board is assembled, it's imperative to continue the communication: Clarity breeds confidence.
It's inevitable that anyone tasked with fundraising is going to feel some degree of shyness over asking for money. Most people have learned that discussing finances in any form is taboo. It's important to reorient this point of view, noted fundraising expert Gail Perry. Fundraising is not about asking for money, nor is about demanding resources. It's about nobly empowering social change. In this way, board members can be the ambassadors of the greater good.
Another way to pose this understanding is to ask the following question: What happens as a result of not participating in the fundraising effort?
"Fundraising is about empowering social change."
If this reframing doesn't allay the anxiety over asking for money, then the next step is to prompt a dialogue with board members. Shift their perspective by asking how they feel about donating their own resources to the causes they support. Chances are, they feel pretty good about it. More important, they can now think of themselves as having a shared experience with their fundraising audience.
Fundraising equals problem-solving
Redefining the framework of asking for donations isn't simply a trick to calm the nerves of first-time fundraisers. It can't be said enough: the aim of raising funds is to bring a charitable mission to light. This statement can be rephrased as a question: How can a charitable mission be brought to light? In this scope, fundraising now becomes a matter of problem-solving, and board members are part of a logistics team.
Here are other ways to strategize:
Don't avoid the comfort zone
It's a good idea to let board members play to their individual strengths. Those who are nervous about directly asking for money can instead zero in on their friendships, existing and future. After all, their job is to grow relationships and, in turn, those connections can yield donations. So, each board member can begin with the steps preceding a donation request: Identifying potential benefactors and engaging their support. After some practice with social engagement, requesting funds might be easier than anticipated.
Those who never become comfortable with asking can help in other ways can help with outreach or the stewardship of existing donors.
It's not all talk
Don't think that wallflowers can't be food fundraisers. Being a social butterfly isn't the only way to network and attract prospective donors. Some philanthropists are equally timid, and likely prefer a low-key interaction to a loud fundraising party. In this case, introverted board members can act as the gentle ambassadors who can relate to shy donors.
Use the buddy system to help break the ice, pairing new board members with those who are more seasoned at fundraising.
Continue the channels of communication. It's a good idea to set up regular meetings where the team can ask questions, report on fundraising successes and collaborate on new strategy. These check-ins will provide valuable feedback, which can be managed with donor software.
Above all, recognize board members' strengths. Thank them often. There's no such thing as too much gratitude.