Non-profit committees can be your secret fundraising weapon if used correctly. Committees and boards are often comprised of people who are well-connected and highly respected in their community. These board members can bring new donors to your mission or use their position to deepen relationships with donors. All you need to do is create a culture where your committee members are lending their strengths to your fundraising team.
How to Create a Culture Within Your Committee
Let’s start by looking at how you can create a culture where your board members are actively helping you reach your fundraising targets.
The ask is often thought of as the primary focus of fundraising. It is also the part of fundraising or selling that people dislike the most. Instead of asking your committee to get involved in fundraising, ask them to get involved in building relationships with your donors.
For example, new donors will be impressed if they receive thank-you notes from your chairperson or Executive Director. It makes them feel special because they know these people are busy and probably only write a small number of thank-you notes.
Another way your committee members can help your organization build relationships is to introduce new donors to your cause. We are fans of saying that everyone on your board probably has a million dollars in their phones. Encourage them to introduce their relationships to your non-profit organization so your fundraising team can start to nurture them.
Assign Board Member Targets to Help Your Fundraising Team
Set tasks and targets for your board members so they know how they can help your non-profit’s fundraising efforts. Make it clear what the expectations are and how that task fits into your non-profit’s mission. This will help to keep the board members motivated to assist the fundraising efforts and give you expectations to point to when having those accountability conversations.
The tasks could be something as simple as:
Set the expectation that your board members will be involved in fundraising efforts.
Share Your Mission with Your Board Members
It is easy to assume that your board members know and can communicate your mission well. However, it is important that they can deliver an elevator pitch on what your non-profit does. That includes:
They need to be able to clearly articulate how donations serve your cause so that donors can get emotionally invested in the mission.
Teach your board members how to communicate those things and hold regular refreshers. Unlike your fundraising team, they are not having regular conversations about your mission. By giving small and regular refreshers, they can communicate your mission effectively, and it will have the added bonus of getting them more invested in your mission.
Create a Plan and a Contingency Plan
Have a plan in place with defined benchmarks and deadlines, so that everybody on your board knows what is expected of them. This allows you to hold your board members, and everybody else, accountable to this plan that they’ve all agreed to.
Then create a contingency plan for how you will handle situations that may derail your plan – one of those being a board member who is not doing what is needed of them. This contingency plan doesn’t have to be something that everyone creates. Pick a small group of stakeholders to create a plan for the best way to mitigate any issues that arise so you can still reach your fundraising goals.
How to Have Difficult Conversations With Committee Members
Even when you have a culture where your committee is involved in fundraising, there will still be times when you need to have difficult conversations. We have some tips that will help you to navigate these conversations to achieve the desired result.
Consider the Board Member’s Communication Style
Understand how your board members communicate so you can have these conversations in a productive way. For example, someone who is a do-er won’t respond well to you asking for 45 minutes of their time. They are busy and want to take action. You need to get them to buy in before they give you that kind of time.
Your do-ers will respond well to having clear instructions on what they need to do to support your organization. They are often busy, so they need a little understanding if things slip their minds. When you are armed with information about your board members’ communication styles, it is easier to navigate these difficult conversations without stirring up negative emotions.
Have the Right Person Handle the Conversation
The person having the conversation can sometimes impact how the conversation is received. In some cases, the committee chair might be the right person to handle the conversation. In some cases, a small group of stakeholders working together to address a bigger problem may be the right way to get the board member to buy in.
When you have the right person and the right communication style, it allows the board member to be open and honest about what is happening. They feel comfortable explaining that they’re really busy and can’t manage the 100 calls but can do 3 or 4 high-importance calls. They can admit that they don’t know what to say on the calls.
HGA’s Jason Ledlow, Trevor Nelson, and Randle Lee discuss how to motivate your board members to get involved with fundraising. Listen to Episode 106 of the HGAFundraising webinar to learn how to create a culture where board members assist your fundraising team.
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