We truly believe that successful fundraising requires board engagement and leadership. But how exactly do you – as an executive director – engage your board members? Here are a few suggestions.
First – most of us don’t like to be told what to do! That includes nonprofit board members. Keeping this in mind, we suggest a move away from “board assignments” and towards volunteering. Here’s what we mean.
First, meet one-on-one with your board chair. Share your vision for the organization, your goals, and fundraising priorities – both short term and long term. Ideally you should have these written up so your chair can have a copy to review.
Ask your chair what they think about your vision, goals and fundraising priorities. Discuss these. Gain their insights and suggestions; be honest and open about which of their ideas you can implement now, and which may take more time. Ask your chair how they want to be involved with the organization’s fundraising, and who from the board – and from outside the board – could help raise money. Share a list of the methods the organization uses to raise funds and talk about the activities associated with these. Ideally you will also have these written up for easy review. Ask your chair which items they can help with. Ask who they believe would want to support the organization with money and resources, and if they would be willing to talk with them about doing so.
Let your chair know that you will be meeting with each board member for a similar conversation; and be sure to schedule those conversations. You may think, “we can discuss this at a board meeting – I don’t need to meet with every board member!” We discourage this thinking. We’ve learned from experience that people are more upfront and honest when talking one-on-one. And that’s what you want – an opportunity to build or strengthen your relationship with each board member. You want to learn what their concerns are and what they are willing to do to help advance your organization’s vision and fundraising.
During your individual meetings be sure to share the organization’s recent accomplishments, and the board’s role in those accomplishments. Share a list of the areas where you need assistance from individual board members throughout the year. If your nonprofit has a board commitment form, now is a great time to share that with each board member and to answer any questions they may have. Be sure to share how each board member will be recognized and acknowledged for their service as a board member.
Make sure you leave each meeting with your board members agreeing to take responsibility for a specific action or project that uses their skills and is within their comfort zone. Let each member know that they will be expected to report out to the board, orally and in writing, on their progress.
Experience has shown us that board members are more than willing to become involved: you have to listen to their ideas and support them in implementing them.
[Copyright 2021 – Mel and Pearl Shaw of Saad&Shaw – Comprehensive Fund Development Services. Video and phone conferencing services always available. Let us help you grow your fundraising. Call us at (901) 522-8727. www.saadandshaw.com. ]