Q. How do I stimulate a board that is reluctant to do fundraising?

board jump imageA. Successful fundraising by a board is a function of helping each member to overcome their anxieties and assume their responsibilities. One can accomplish that by:

  1. providing the participants with an understanding of what fundraising will be done and how it will be accomplished,
  2. offering training and practice situations to ensure the board is comfortable in the role, and
  3. ensuring each individual understands the time commitment that is necessary to establish a long-term relationship with donors.

The Scope of the Campaign
An organization begins by enabling its board to develop the scope of any fundraising effort. Thus, the board owns the process and has an in-depth understanding of the project as well as what it will take to achieve their personal goals. One way to establish readiness is to produce a case statement and other relevant materials. The board’s active involvement in the development of these collateral documents enables each member to understand the goals – financial, physical and even spiritual — and in what way they will be achieved.

The Fear of Rejection
For many, the largest impediment to initiating the first fundraising call is the fear of rejection. Let’s face it, no one likes to fail. Providing training sessions where board members can learn to overcome objections will eliminate many of the major reasons people resist getting involved with fundraising.

If you are still having trouble finding help with the campaign, have one-on-one conversations with reluctant board members. Try to determine if there is something else that should be addressed in training or if the reasons are more personal and you should look elsewhere. The idea is not to force anyone into an uneasy place, but to offer each board member a comfortable place from which to contribute their time and talents.

A Long-Term Plan
In theory, board members are interested in the longevity of the organization. In practice, however, board meetings often focus on the immediate issues that need to be addressed.

Fundraising requires a long-term commitment, but board members may not have the ability to focus on anything but the short-range. Anyone who is making initial fundraising calls should plan on making follow-up contact. The goal is create relationships that are life-long and that, once established, can be passed to another steward. This ensures funding for many years to come. Keeping a donor is easier than continually finding new donors.

Stimulating the Board
Fundraising starts with each board member’s personal donation. If the board as a whole does not participate at the 100% level and each member does not see a reason to donate his or her own resources, it will be impossible for to convince others to give to the organization.

Good luck, and please, let us know if we can help you create guidelines that are more specific to your organization.