How board members can increase funding without asking for money

 

One of the biggest fears shared by charitable board members is the fear of asking for money. For most charities, raising funds through board members is a duty and, quite frankly, an obligation. But, when push comes to shove, few board members enjoy tapping their friends, co-workers, and fellow community leaders for financial support. Serving on several boards and directly working with many more, I can readily sense board members who dislike soliciting donations.

But why does there need to be such a fear about raising funds?

Board members are typically recruited to non-profit organizations because of their professional or community influence and affluence. They bring significant experience, knowledge, and connections…the ingredients necessary to represent, govern and generate support for the organizations they serve.

When asked about the sources of resistance, the responses I repeatedly receive include the fear of being asked to return the favor to support a different organization; or fear in receiving a negative response; or, fear of potentially impairing a relationship with a co-worker, client, or vendor. These are tough situations for a board member and, quite honestly, future board members.

Here’s my advice to board members who are hesitant or concerned about asking others for charitable donations.

Work with the charity’s staff leadership, specifically the executive and/or development director, to identify prospective donors with whom you have connections. These can be individuals, businesses, and foundations.

Take it a step further by helping them craft a solicitation strategy for each prospect. While each prospective donor may require a different approach, an appropriate amount of cultivation will advance the relationship-building process between the charity and the potential donor.

One very simple, yet effective action you can take is scheduling an initial meeting between the organization (represented by a lead staff or board member) and the prospect.

Creating the opportunity for the organization to identify and cultivate potential “investors” is what non-profit organizations would love to see from their board leaders. It’s quite possible that by taking these simple, yet effective, steps may influence the raising of more money than anticipated!

 

Organizational analysis could spur immediate opportunity

Have you ever conducted a third-party review of the non-profit organization you manage? If you’re a board member, have you ever seen an organizational review of the charitable organization?

You can find suitable ways to review your charity’s financial operations through internet searches. We recommend you take a look at those. We also suggest you consider a unique analytic system we created. It’s called HealthCheck. It closely resembles your own visit to your primary physician, who will conduct a review of your health and provide feedback and make suggestions.

 

HealthCheck is designed to provide research and organizational analysis to help organizations make strategic decisions…and help donors make wise charitable giving decisions.

Benefit to charity leaders…

Board and staff members of nearly every non-profit organization want organizational growth…all want money. Not every organization can hire new staff or add a consultant, but they want expertise and leverage to attract new supporters and help build confidence and relationships with existing donors and volunteers. We created HealthCheck to meet these needs in an affordable and hands-on manner. By doing so, we form an alliance with non-profit leaders, where we essentially work alongside, determining and implementing ways to strengthen the organization.

Benefit to donors…

When donors consider non-profit organizations for their contributions, a number of factors come into play, including the donor’s relationship, belief in the mission, and geographical location. Many times, this isn’t enough information for a prospective donor to render a decision. We created HealthCheck to deliver existing and prospective donors with a resource they can easily locate. Knowledge derived from our 40+ years of non-profit and corporate leadership experience were used to design a research and best practices tool, which gives donors all the information they need and in five key organizational strength indicators.
  

HealthCheck analyzes specific strength indicators, including:

Data & Efficiency – Analyzing IRS Forms 990 to evaluate a non-profit organization’s financial performance in key performance categories. Upon analyzing performance categories, we assign a score as it relates to the organization’s efficiency, capacity, and overall financial health.

Finance & Fund Development – Non-profits have an obligation to act as responsible stewards in managing their financial resources. They must comply with all legal financial requirements and adhere to sound accounting principles that produce reliable financial information, ensure fiscal responsibility and build public trust. In addition, non-profits act as the intermediary between donors and beneficiaries and have an ethical obligation to ensure proper handling of funds to carry out their missions.

Governance – A non-profit’s leadership, represented by its staff and board of directors is responsible for defining the organization’s mission and for providing overall leadership and strategic direction to the organization. Each non-profit board should: ensure that the organization has adequate resources to carry out its mission and provide direction for the executive director and key staff; and evaluate its own effectiveness as a governing body and as representatives of the community in upholding the public interest served by the organization.

Human Resources – The ability of an organization to make effective use of the energy, time and talents of its employees and volunteers is essential to accomplish the organization’s mission. Non-profit organizations should place a high priority on exercising fair and equitable practices that attract and retain qualified volunteers and employees. Nonprofits have an obligation to adhere to all applicable employment laws and to provide a safe and productive work environment.

Public Information – Non-profits that provide information to prospective donors and other constituents promote informed and responsible philanthropy. Donors are better able to make decisions when they can learn a nonprofit’s purpose, who governs it, how it manages its financial resources, whom the nonprofit serves, and what progress it has made toward achieving its mission.

   

Here are the outcomes…

After a very small investment ($45), the process begins with executive staff (or a board exec) honestly responding to sets of specific questions. The process can be relatively short. It will take about 20 minutes to answer online-based questions, then 24 hours for NPcatalyst to conduct research and prepare its findings.

When completed, the organization will be presented with a charity rating score, much like a grade earned on a test. Scores will be earned in the various areas of analysis, accompanied by an overall score. Organizations which seek greater detail may purchase a “best practices guide” to received recommended action items to improve each area of operation. The guide is intended to help the organization raise the rating score to 100.

Donors and prospective contributors enjoy seeing rating scores to accompany the research their conducting on charitable organizations, but also recognize the organization’s desire to diagnose various areas of operation.

 

Click here to indicate your interest to learn more about the unique HealthCheck system or to order the analysis.
 

 

 

Simple, yet empowering charitable investment ideas

Millions of investments are made on a regular basis, mostly for personal or corporate gain. What if a million investments were made each day for the benefit of the community, country, and world? Just because there’s uncertainty with our economy doesn’t mean it needs to be that way with benevolence. Here are a few charitable investment ideas for you to consider.

  • Invest your time to advance an organization’s mission;
  • Invest in a future leader by mentoring;
  • Invest some money to meet a community need;
  • Invest a smile to brighten another’s day;
  • Invest your professional skills to complete a critical task;
  • Invest your voice to cheer and celebrate;
  • Invest a meal to help feed another;
  • Invest a little sweat to set up an event;
  • Invest an idea to create innovative change;
  • Invest compassion to help others;
  • Invest an invitation to encourage others to join you;
  • Invest your attention toward creative ways of giving;
  • Invest a jacket to warm another;
  • Invest hands to change the world;
  • Just Invest…the list can go on and on

Some of these investments can be measured, others provide intangible results. In all cases, the ROI generated is life changing…for the “investor” and each beneficiary.

If you’re interested or ready to make a charitable investment of any kind, give us a call at 775-333-9444 or email us. Our team at NPcatalyst can help you or your company create an empowering charitable investment strategy, find the ideal charitable organization(s), and embrace your own way of giving.

Board Retreats – Do they need advanced planning?

Strong organizations are governed by outstanding leaders. Fueled with passion, experience, and commitment, the board members of non-profit organizations play vital roles in the direction, management and impact of these groups.

The strength of this leadership…and engagement…isn’t always immediately felt upon creating the board or recruiting the new board member. As with many great things, the strength of the board is developed over time, through active involvement, and organizational understanding. One proven method to mature leadership and, at the same time, create organizational opportunity is by conducting annual board retreats.

Board retreats are integral to each non-profit organization’s success. They present opportunities to plan for the future by blending the vast amount of leadership, experience, skills, and ideas of the board’s members. As a result, organizations run more smoothly, where board members are more connected, and the interpersonal relationships of board and staff are strong.

Retreats serve as great “starts” or re-freshers for both organizations and their leaders. The most successful retreats…those which set the stage for future success…follow four key steps.
1. Planning – defining the purpose; planning meetings; self-assessment; presentation materials
2. Engagement – clear agenda; board “buy in”; interactive and fun
3. Strategy – creating goals and action steps; measurable results
4. Follow-Through – developed through committee meetings; presented/reviewed at board meetings

A successful retreat hinges on the work of a well-focused team (board and staff), an interested and skilled facilitator, and a proactive agenda. Its success relies on the “buy in” and active involvement of its board members. This enables the board to openly challenge assumptions, address issues, foster interpersonal relationships, improve productivity, understand and clearly represent the mission/message, and develop strategies.

Have you scheduled your next board retreat? Whether it’s to address your organization’s board development, mission/vision, messaging/public relations, fund development, and/or strategic planning, now is the time to invest in your non-profit’s future.

Survey instrument a primer for ideal board strategic planning

Assessment solution

Conducting annual board evaluations is an ideal solution to strengthening charitable boards and their organizations. For some organizations, they can be difficult to plan, cumbersome to coordinate, and last minute activities. To ease the burden and, more importantly, deliver a clear understanding of board leadership, we’ve designed a board analysis survey tool entitled BoardCheck.

BoardCheck targets a non-profit organization’s growth through the voices of its board leaders. The instrument takes a snapshot of the organization’s makeup and activity by identifying its strengths, weaknesses, and opportunities. The data then forms the foundation of strategic planning initiatives.

BoardCheck is designed to serve as a tool for non-profit growth through the voices of board leaders. Best utilized prior to board retreats and strategic planning processes, BoardCheck is an instrument which takes a snapshot of a non-profit’s current organizational makeup and activity, analyzes it, and identifies strengths and weaknesses…all stemming from their own board members. All analytical information is derived from a 30+ question survey completed by board members.

workshop-boardcheck-screen

The survey captures information in the following areas.

  • Mission and vision
  • Board development
  • Marketing, messaging, and community interaction
  • Board culture
  • Leadership and involvement
  • Organizational health
  • Board activity
  • Personal involvement
  • Expertise and skills

 

Particularly advantageous to an upcoming board retreat, strategic planning process, or annual review, the BoardCheck survey features questions to identify key topics, board/organization priorities, recommendations and vision…in written-form from each board member.

BoardCheck is an ideal tool for boards of non-profit organizations of all sizes.

The value of BoardCheck is found in the third-party nature of the assessment. The tool allows board members to rate, rank, and share personal comments about the organization at their convenience and in the comfortable setting of their own home or office. The analysis provided through the survey and, any review/recommendation shared by NPcatalyst is conducted in an unbiased fashion.

Designed as solution for 501c3 organizations, BoardCheck is easily applicable membership, school PTA, and fraternal organizations. All data is held in strict confidence and is property of the participating organization. The information is not released, traded, or sold.

Click here to learn more about the BoardCheck board assessment tool.

  

Northern Nevada American Red Cross

   

Name of Organization Leader: Bram Buckley, Board Member

Contact’s Phone Number: (775) 750-5073

Email of the leader: bbuckley@lee-associates.com

Organization Website: http://www.nevada.redcross.org/

Identify your leadership needs:

  • Board committee member
  • Skills-based volunteer

 

Board committee(s):

All board members are fundraising volunteers as well as the other skill sets they possess, but the following committees need assistance:

  • Fundraising
  • Event Planning
  • Leadership

 

Skills-based volunteer needs:

Skill sets lacking currently on the board are:

  • Social Media expertise
  • Law
  • Insurance
  • Marketing
  • Salesmen
  • Leadership

 

Comments & Inquiries:

Preferred Board member(s) is someone with a passion for the Red Cross and all they do for the community. The next few years have leadership positions coming up, having someone who was interested being part of growing the organization is a huge plus.

Fundraising webinar for non-profit board members

     

At the root of effective fund development is the identification, cultivation, and solicitation of prospective contributors. This simple process affects all areas of each community-benefit (or non-profit) organization and, when properly managed, creates incredible effects on the organization’s growth, sustainability, and beneficiary impact.

In the hundreds of board meetings which NPcatalyst leaders have facilitated, participated, or simply visited as a guest, there’s been one overwhelming topic address – fundraising. In most cases, the question of “how do we (or where do we) raise more funds?” has been raised. Typical answers are special events, direct mail, and grantwriting. Very seldom do boards discuss relationship building and, more specifically, the board’s role in facilitating new donor relationships.

On Tuesday, September 27, we will be conducting a webinar on the role of board members in the donor solicitation process. The training session is designed for all board members, and will be great for executive directors, development staff, and marketing/public relations staff. The presentation will include tips related to:

  • How to identify prospective donors
  • How to address potential supporters
  • What to say when you have their attention
  • How to properly represent the organization
  • How to gather and record information
  • The interaction with staff members

We’ll even spend a moment on how to raise funds without “making the ask”.

But wait…there’s more. We’ll give each webinar participant copies of documents we regularly use to identify, cultivate, and solicit major gifts.

Here are the webinar details:

NPcatalyst – Board fundraising webinar training session

www.npcatalyst.com/webinars

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

10:30am-11:30am (PST)

$70.00

 Register Now

     

The webinar is designed for all 501c3 organizations, whether they’re large or small;  weak or strong development programs; active or inactive board members; and, located in Nevada, the west coast or elsewhere – but all seeking growth and greater impact. 

Please note that the webinar will be taped and may be purchased for viewing immediately after the actual webinar date/time. For more information, contact NPcatayst at 775-333-9444 or info@NPcatalyst.com.

Young leaders ready for community boards

By Pete Parker

It’s time to prepare our Generation X & Y counterparts for community leadership.

I’ve read recent blogs addressing young leadership and their roles or, lack thereof, on non-profit boards. In Emily Heard’s “Why Don’t More Members of Gens X and Y Join Boards”, she reminds us that only 2% of board members were aged 30 or younger according to Board Source’s Nonprofit Governance Index 2007 study. Various reasons for the lack of young board leadership were listed, most predominantly (in my opinion) was “skepticism about the need to have various generations on boards”.

I’m a Gen Xer who has served on no less than 10 boards over the past five years. Despite my relative lack of board experience, I can share that boards can certainly use an infusion of fresh leadership. Though the “freshness” does not necessarily need to relate to age, there are certainly advantages of recruiting young leaders, including:

  • Fresh perspectives
  • Ease in orienting, training and mentoring
  • Enthusiasm to serve on committees
  • Knowledge of the ever-advancing technology
  • Ability to network through social media channels
  • Connection to young future leaders

 They also possess the characteristic of caring. I have seen many board members (perhaps myself included) lose the interest and passion they once held for certain causes and organizations, yet remain on boards. New leaders, particularly young activists, can pick up the load once carried by active board members and move it and the organization forward.

I found the following statement in Rosetta Thurman’s blog, “Do Nonprofit Boards Really Want Younger Members” particularly insightful…“The “under 30” focus is really important to note because that age bracket encompasses all of Generation Y, the largest generational demographic behind the Baby Boomers at 80 million strong. Which means that there are a lot of young people out there who can be recruited for board service.”

It reminded me of the Meyer Foundation’s Ready to Lead report in 2008, which stated that “the nonprofit sector will undergo large-scale executive turnover in the near term and that it is uncertain if we have a workforce that is willing, prepared, and—not least of all—enthusiastically ready to assume leadership positions.” There are far more baby boomers than Gen Xers and Yers, potentially leaving a significant leadership void within our communities.

It is time to address the future strength, vision and impact of our community organizations. Thankfully, organizations such as the Points of Light Institute, HandsOn Network and local volunteer centers are in place and addressing community leadership on a daily basis.

Here in Northern Nevada, a solid group of leaders has chosen to propel the young leadership continuum forward. For the past two years, the Reno-Tahoe Young Professionals Network has focused its efforts on introducing young professionals to community and civic organizations. In fact, it launched a donor-funded campaign to educate and engage young leaders with organizations seeking key volunteers and board members. In its brief year of existence, The Pebble Project has linked 324 young professionals with 61 local community organizations.

The same organization has voted to start a board matching program, aimed at educating board members-to-be on all aspects of board leadership…and connecting each participant with a community organization.

These two projects are sure to ignite a spark of philanthropy in the Reno/Sparks area, creating a legacy of leadership for years to come.

I encourage organizational leaders (board and staff) to assess their leadership structures and personnel and seriously consider filling voids and creating opportunities for young leadership. We are eager to lead (especially if there’s direction), excited to serve and passionate about our communities. Plus, just imagine the skills we can learn and hone…then apply in our respective workplaces.

The future is here, the future is now.

 

Pete Parker is a consultant striving to enhance the level of philanthropy in communities.