Q. How can I get lay leaders to participate in training for both governance and solicitation?

horse imageA. Have you ever heard the saying, “You can bring a horse to water but you can’t make him drink?” Unfortunately, I am only half kidding.

Getting lay leaders to participate is a matter of changing the culture of the organization. And without letting the lay leaders off of the hook – there must be some level of acceptance that there are few volunteers who will provide everything you need him or her to give. Some will give time and money. Some will give expertise and time. Some will give in-kind donations and expertise. Some will give money and unsolicited advice. Some will give – you get the idea.

Changing the culture includes setting expectations for both old and new volunteers – in writing and verbally. For new lay leaders, it will avoid future discussions as to whether they will participate in leadership or solicitation skill development.

Lay leaders who are already on board may need to change their view of their responsibilities and the only way do this right is one person at a time. If the organization needs to increase fundraising, talk to Jon, Susan and Charles about how they see themselves helping increase funds. Would they be willing to undergo solicitor training and role play some practice asks? Are they willing to go along with someone else for asks (when appropriate) to get comfortable with the situation? Could they help determine who should be solicited and for how much?

If the answer keeps coming back as no, ask him or her to think of ways that they can be helpful with fundraising. If the staff has been honest with them up until this point – the need for fundraising will not come as a surprise. Then, the onus is on the individuals to think of ways that they can help – within their own comfort zone. Staff can help and ensure what they want to offer is truly helpful, but it provides a bit of self-empowerment that could benefit everyone involved.

In other words, sometimes, it’s not about bringing the horse to water, it’s about figuring out how to make the horse want to go to the water.