How Your Board Can Help Sustain Your Fundraising Operations
In today’s uncertain times, you may be wondering how to keep your fundraising operations going. The thought of asking for more support right now could seem overwhelming. And while your board exists to help your organization through tough times, you might be worried about asking more from them.
But nonprofits need funding to provide the goods and services people rely upon — now more than ever. Your board members know this and will be willing to help. You’ll need to point them in the right direction and give them support to best activate them for fundraising.
Refocus Board Members on Core Mission
With so much in flux, you might feel the temptation to delay action. Resist it. Your donors and the people using your services are counting on you to take action, even when things are uncertain. And your core mission is what should guide your next action.
This is where your board can help. A refresher about your core mission can remind board members why they signed on to help your organization. Plus, it can reinvigorate stalled-out fundraising operations and inspire new ideas. Lean into your organizational values to guide these conversations and to decide on your next steps.
You might already require your board members to give as part of their commitment. Whether you currently ask for a gift of treasure or not, you should now revisit your board members and ask. Inspired by your core mission, they will do what they can to help.
Overcommunicate With Board Members
Once you’ve aligned your board members to your mission, keep talking to them. Deploy multiple communication channels — calls, emails, video conferencing — however they want to stay connected. Regularly update your board on your organization’s needs and where you need the most help.
Online-based solutions like Slack or Microsoft Teams can help you gather your board members virtually. Be sure to prepare documents ahead of time and follow good remote board meeting etiquette. Specialized board engagement software can help you guide virtual meetings and host and store financial information and fundraising plans. Board members can access and engage with that information and coordinate their assistance.
Be honest about your financial position; this is no time to sugarcoat your numbers. Tell your board about your most urgent need, and ask for their advice. Do you have unnecessary expenses you can cut back? Are there previously missed opportunities to generate revenue? While your board can assist with direct fundraising, they can also direct you down other financial avenues.
Incorporate Board Members into Donor Appreciation
How have you shown authentic donor appreciation in the past? If you haven’t asked your board members to help thank your donors before, start now. Recruit your board members to get on the phone or send emails thanking your donors. With the flood of messages going out right now, it may seem strange to add your messages to donors’ inboxes and voicemails. But to keep your fundraising operations running, your donors should be borderline tired of hearing from you.
Of course, you should be sensitive to how trying these times are for everyone, including your donors. But that doesn’t mean they won’t want to continue — or even increase — their support for you and your mission. Just as you reminded board members about your work’s importance, your board can remind donors of why their support is so valuable and what it would mean to have it now.
Inform Your Community
As you activate your donor list, also keep the community you serve informed of what’s happening and where you need help. Tailor your message and choose the right medium for your audience. Outreach through email, webinars and press releases can cover a lot of people needing to hear from you. If some stakeholders require a personal touch, use the phone.
Your board members can amplify your messaging’s reach by sharing press releases and other content through their own social networks. They can participate in community conversations on your behalf and help foster creative ideas created by those you serve. Keep your community in the loop on what you’re accomplishing, and pay attention to where others are struggling.
Even in uncertain times, your organization must keep fundraising to support your operations. You and your staff are an important piece of the puzzle, but trust your board member to help. They can support your appeals and share your organization’s needs with the community to keep your fundraising engine running.
Jeb Banner is the founder and CEO of Boardable, a nonprofit board management software provider. He is also the founder of two nonprofits, The Speak Easy and Musical Family Tree, as well as a board member of United Way Central Indiana and ProAct. Jeb is based in Indianapolis, Ind.
Boardable is an online board management portal that centralizes communication, document storage, meeting planning and everything else that goes into running a board of directors.