7 Rules for Successfully Soliciting Your Board
Getting the financial support of your board doesn't really need to be such a huge challenge. If you just take charge behind the scenes, you can really make it happen. And it just might be easier than you think.
It's our own fault when board members do not give 100 percent. The real issue is that we often don't set up their solicitations in the right way.
Here's how to make the process simple and successful:
1. Show why board members need to give generously
The importance of board member participation in giving is rarely explained properly to members. Instead, the issue of their giving is apologized for, sneaked up on or swept under the rug. Most board members know that their cash contributions lend vital credibility to your fundraising efforts. They know they are supposed to give. Their heads are not in the sand.
2. Be totally clear about expectations
Be sure the board members themselves agree on the expectations. Make sure that the commitment to give is written in plain English, in black and white, for everyone to see. Do not stop there, however. You and your board leaders must also talk out loud about it, and often.
3. Set up the ask correctly. Get board members to solicit other board members
Never get in the situation of asking your board members yourself. It is hard for you as a staff member to have a conversation with your board members about their giving without it lapsing into the wrong tone. Let the board members be in charge of this! (But you run things behind the scenes.)
4. Give the subject of board donations lots of visibility
Report regularly on the status of board gifts. Put pledge cards and return envelopes in every board member's packet. They are great reminders. Try setting a deadline for all board gifts to be completed: "We need all board gifts to be in by March 30." That gives you — or your board chair — an excuse to be in touch to follow up.