THREE: Redefine fundraising.
Board members need to understand that they’re not just trying to raise money — they’re really trying to change the world. Instead of focusing on money, they need to be talking about ideas and vision and a better future. If you can get them in touch with their passion for your mission, then it’s much easier for them to envision asking for support from their friends and community.
Remind board members that they’re very important. They actually “own” this problem in their community and are the ones who the community is looking to for solutions. Empower your board members by reminding them that, as volunteers, they’re doing this out of their desire to make a difference — and that makes them extremely effective solicitors.
FOUR: Take the emphasis off soliciting.
Board members often equate fundraising with soliciting. It’s important to show them the many ways they can help in fundraising without having to solicit. They often are surprised to find that just opening doors is one of the most valuable services they can provide.
Show your board members the traditional fundraising cycle: identification, cultivation, solicitation and stewardship. Point out all the activities that are involved in each step and where they can help. Tell them about the studies that show when board members make personal calls to thank donors, donor attrition lessens, gifts go up and donors are pleased. They actually can directly impact the bottom line without soliciting.
FIVE: Deal with their fears directly.
Some board members aren’t just nervous; they’re frozen with fear and won’t budge unless you give them a chance to talk about their discomfort. There’s a rule in psychology that unexpressed negative emotions tend to intensify. But once a person talks about the negativity, it dissipates.
Stage a conversation in which board members turn to the person next to them and share how they feel about money, or soliciting for money. Then have a group discussion. Let them get all the bad stuff out on the table. Be sure to follow with a discussion about how they feel when they make a gift as a donor. Bring out all the wonderful, warm, fuzzy feelings associated with giving, and remind them that this is what they’re offering donors.