The No. 1 Fundraising Skill Your Board Members Need to Master
Fundraising training is always a bit scary for many board members. Why don't you lighten up a bit with them? Back off from a training session on "the art of the ask" and start them off slowly. Teach them how to spread the word.
Here's the fundraising job I think board members should tackle first: to learn how to be dynamite personal advocates for the cause.
Wouldn't it be wonderful if your board members were at work spreading good news about your organization all over the community?
On my part, I think this is the one job all board members need to do all the time!
I find lots of board members simply don't know what to say when they have the chance to spread the word about their organization. They would love to help, but many are not quite sure how to do it.
Sometimes they feel awkward. They tell me that they grapple for the right words and phrases to convey your important work.
Why not give them some training on messaging at your next board meeting? But remember, exercises mean that they are up and talking and participating. It does not mean that you are presenting to them while they sit passively. If your board members are going to learn anything, you've got to let them engage directly in the exercise.
You are really giving them introductory fundraising training — but you are not going to call it that!
- Ask them to share why they care about your organization.
- Ask them to discuss what is exciting about your organization.
- Try putting them in small groups and ask each group to come up with five reasons people should contribute to your organization.
Help them create their own elevator speeches. You can try setting up these elevator speech exercises here and here.
You could also engage your staff and board leaders in a deeper discussion:
- What is going on at your organization?
- What are your biggest challenges right now?
- How much does it cost to help one person or do one good deed? (What's the math?)
- What are you tackling this year in your community, region or the world?
- Why is it so urgent? What is at stake?
I don't know about you, but I think this is interesting stuff. I think devoting your next board meeting to a full-scale discussion of these topics would be an extremely valuable exercise. Right?
And it would give board members "meat" to talk about when they run into someone who might be a potential friend, supporter or donor to your cause.