Conference Roundup: Preaching to the Board
Fundraisers who want board members and upper management singing the praises of direct-response fundraising have to convert them.
In the session “Managing Up: Helping Your Board and Senior Management Become Direct Response Evangelists” during the 2008 New York Nonprofit Conference earlier this month, co-presenter Bryan Terpstra, vice president of client services for Holliston, Mass.-based direct-response marketing firm L.W. Robbins Associates, said that fundraisers must change board members’ minds by speaking their language.
First and foremost, fundraisers who want board members on their side need to avoid fundraising jargon. Board members and senior managers can’t relate to terms like “donor retention” and “donor pyramid,” Terpstra said.
“Make it easy for them to say yes,” he advised.
For example, instead of explaining a direct-marketing program as a consistent source of “non-dues income,” call it “working capital” — a business term they can relate to.
Fundraisers also should be mindful of their pitch. Try to get inside the heads of board members and senior managers, find out what’s important to them, their needs and experiences.
Also, give board members examples they can relate to, Terpstra said.
He also suggests sharpening an organization’s argument for direct marketing. To do this, fundraisers can explain to board members and senior management that:
* Direct marketing casts a wide net so organizations can start relationships with many types of donors who are seeking different ways to give.
* Direct marketing brings in long-term donors and cultivates them, and systematically identifies as many major-gift prospects as possible.
* Direct marketing is convenient for donors — most people like to communicate through the mail or online.
The bottom line is “they need to understand,” Terpstra said.