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!

 

Five Rs of Fundraising

While you’re raising funds for a charitable organization, there’s one approach to generating donations that’s sure to prove successful. Consider how much time and effort goes into planning small and major special events.  Now, imagine that same effort strategically targeted toward cultivating a lifetime donor…a fan who loves and supports your organization and its mission over the long term.  This single concept, so often ignored, can make the difference between surviving from event to event and having a steady stream of program-sustaining money coming into your nonprofit.  Nothing will net rewards with your donors like relationship building.

The “Five Rs of Fundraising” was created roughly 25 years ago, while on staff at Fraternity Management Group. Its application, however, can be used by all non-profit organizations. While many organizations believe that coordinating special events is an ideal method for raising funds, building relationships with current and prospective donors generates far greater sustainability. You may want to consider the following Five Rs of fundraising:

Research
This forms a solid basis of understanding of your organization’s fundraising endeavors, not to mention its individual constituent relations. From basic records management to in-depth interviews, information is key to success. With proper research, the interests, needs, charitable backgrounds, professional experiences, personal connections and links to your organization are identified and recorded.

Recruiting
This phase is going on constantly, but primarily during the same time frame as heavy research. Volunteer leaders, including development committee members, board members, and campaign steering chairpersons play integral roles in successful fundraising campaigns. The amount of work involved and the number of prospective contributors and volunteers connected with the organization, who must be contacted, requires proper recruitment and management.

Romance
Commonly called cultivation, this is perhaps the most important part of the process. All contact with prospective contributors is a form of cultivation. Every newsletter, email, phone call, tweet or Facebook message, event, and publicity item serves to inform and pique the interest your organization’s potential supporters. Romancing these prospective major donors, volunteers, and community leaders occurs on a regular basis leads to strategic and successful solicitations. The goal is to encourage prospects to become actively engaged and connected.

Request
This is the good part, where individual prospects are asked, or invited, to invest in the organization. It’s important to note that the levels of gift size and donor satisfaction are increased with proper romancing or cultivation. Actual soliciting of contributions is carried out by key organization leaders and volunteers who are personally engaged in the organization and connected to the person(s) being solicited.

Recognition
Early, frequent, and creative ways to thank volunteers and donors will insure that they stay involved and invested in your organization. It breeds proper stewardship of future donations of time and dollar. It also sets a pattern which other prospects will notice, which be a determining factor when they’re asked to contribute funds.

Every contact, with every individual prospect, involves one or more of the Five R’s. Planning ahead and maximizing the effectiveness of those contacts is what will drive your organizations closer to its fundraising goal.