9 Ways Board Members Can Raise Money Without Fundraising
If your nonprofit is going to become more strategic and financially sustainable, you have to start from the beginning (or the top, as it were). But the fact remains that a majority of board members don't like to (or simply won't) ask for money.
The good news is that there are lots of other things board members can do to bring money in the door. And remember, if you are financing not fundraising your organization, your definition of "bringing money in the door" should be very broad.
Here are nine things you could ask your fundraising-shy board members to do:
- Help create or evaluate a business plan for an earned income venture. If you have business leaders or entrepreneurs on your board, this is a great use of their time and adds tremendous value to your organization. If board members can help you create a more profitable business, they are directly contributing to your organization's bottom line.
- Advocate for government money. You may have board members who can't stand the idea of asking their friends for money, but they are well-connected in city, county, state or federal government and could open doors to you for government contracts, grants, fee-for-service or other government monies.
- Provide intelligence on prospects. If you have a board member that seems to know everyone in town but for whatever reason refuses to ask any of them for money, he or she can still be incredibly useful. You may be getting ready to ask a prospective donor for $1,000, and this board member can tell you what that person has already given to, at what level, who else might know the donor and so on. When you make an ask, the more information you have going into it, the more successful you will be.
- Set up a meeting with a prospective customer. If your nonprofit is engaged in an earned income venture, you probably always need help with new sales. If you have a board member who is part of, or connected to, the target customer(s) of your business, he or she could open doors to new customers. Or at the very least, this board member could help you think through your sales and marketing strategies and make them more effective so you can attract more customers.
- E-mail, call or visit a donor just to say thanks. The stewardship of a gift is an often forgotten, but incredibly critical, part of the fundraising process. According to Penelope Burk's annual donor survey, 84 percent of donors would give again if they were thanked in a timely way. And being thanked by a board member is a bonus. A donor who renews his or her gift to a nonprofit is providing more money for the organization.
- Explain to a prospect why you serve. A board of directors is a group of volunteers who cares so much about the mission of the organization that board members are willing to donate their time (a precious resource) to the cause. As a donor, it is affirming to see that a volunteer is contributing time, but it is even more motivating to hear, in the board member's own words, why he or she feels compelled to serve this organization. That story can be enough to persuade someone to give.
- Host a small gathering at your home. Over the course of a year, most people invite a gathering of friends and/or family into their homes at least once. Board members could take a few minutes at their next dinner party, birthday celebration or Super Bowl feast to talk about something that is near and dear to their hearts: the nonprofit on whose board they serve. They don't have to ask people for money, but they could simply say, "If you're interested in learning more, let me know." And then the nonprofit's staff could take it from there with those who are interested.
- Recruit an in-kind service. If a board member could remove an expense line item from a nonprofit's budget, that would directly contribute to a stronger bottom line. For example, if a board member works at an ad agency, could he or she convince the company to provide some pro-bono marketing services to the nonprofit? But keep in mind, these in-kind donations must be of value to the nonprofit and provide an offset to a direct cost that the nonprofit would otherwise have to bear.
- Negotiate a lower price from a vendor. Do you have a board member with great negotiating skills (think of all of those lawyers on your board). Could he or she negotiate with your insurance providers, office space rental company or printers for a lower price? If so, that's more money in the bank.
If you think of a board member's "get" responsibilities in these much broader terms, then I find it difficult to imagine a board member who cannot bring money in the door. You just have to get strategic about how each individual board member can best contribute to the organization's bottom line.
If you want a road map for making your board more effective, download the "10 Traits of a Groundbreaking Board" e-book.
Nell Edgington is president of Social Velocity.