Sleepless in 2013?
Stuff we would never do to our businesses, we do to these nonprofits. Some guy started a school because he wanted to give a certain type of eduction. Realized three years into it, he didn’t want to fund an entire school, and he didn’t have an exit strategy. But he ran car dealerships. He would never have entered a car dealership business without having an exit strategy, a strategy for mitigating his losses and what other things he’s going to do.
We need to be encouraging board members, and that can be scary because they start asking questions. But I think it makes for a much stronger organization.
One quick example: I was a one-person fundraising shop at a hospital. I had a financial planner on my board look at me and say, “The 17,000 people on our direct-mail database get the same exact letter?” I said, “Yes, they do.” He said, “I would go out of business if I did that. I need to know that my target …” and he started defining the target market for his business, and he said, “Why don’t we segment?”
It was like I fed him a script as a fundraiser. I wanted to segment. I wanted to do some research on my database, and so with him saying that all the other people around the table started saying, “Oh yeah, we would never do that in our business. We know our customers. We do some research. Let’s fund research for this organization too.”
CJ: I completely agree with that. You have to open it up and put the opportunity out there. A lot of people who are on boards may or may not have the expertise specifically in the nonprofit world, and they may feel uncomfortable. When the questions are posed to them in a way that allows them to use their life experience and relate it to the organization, which they obviously care greatly about, they come at it with a whole different perspective that you might not have seen otherwise.