Thursday, August 13, 2009

News You Can Use

It May Not Be Rocket Science, But...

I came across a great interview in Advancing Philanthropy, July/August 2009. This is the publication of the Association of Fundraising Professionals. Sandy Reese, a consultant in Loudon, Tennessee wrote the following advice to help get board members involved in fundraising...

1. Give them a firm foundation. Start by educating your board members. Make sure they know the basics. Share with them the principles of giving, such as:
  • People give money because they want to
  • People give to change lives
  • People give to support success, not distress
  • People give to make a change for the good
  • People give to people
  • People usually don't give unless they are asked
Put extra emphasis on the last two because they are the most important!

2. Share a simple system. Show your board that by learning a few easy techniques they can have a big impact on ongoing fundraising activities. Invite them to pick a place to start that seems comfortable to them, such as attending a special event, before they dive into major donor requests.

  • Technique 1: Raise money for the students, not the organization. Learn to talk about the organization in terms of its constituents and their needs, not the organization’s needs.
  • Technique 2: Tell the stories. Learn to tell a story or two about the great things happening at the organization. Tell about a personal experience.
  • Technique 3: Speak from your heart. Learn to talk about the organization with all the passion of your heart. If you believe strongly in this organization, others will, too.

3. Make learning manageable. Since board members are busy people, train them in a I5-minute segment at each board meeting. You can accomplish a lot of learning in short bursts at each board meeting. Here are some things you can do:

  • Have them pair up and share why they said "yes" to serving on the board. This helps them tap into their passion for the organization.
  • Have them tell each other a story about how the organization is changing lives in the community.
  • Have them share their thoughts about fundraising-what they are scared of and what they feel comfortable with. This helps them begin to overcome fear of fund raising.
  • Create a crossword puzzle with the words in the puzzle being answers and the clues being basic facts of your organization. For example, one clue might be "the number of children served each year."
  • Create a Jeopardy-type game around organizational facts.
  • Have them brainstorm about people in their sphere of influence whom they can talk to about your organization or send an appeal letter to.
Over time, this will help "bring them along" and increase their comfort level with fund raising in general.

4. Give them concrete ideas of ways to get involved. People respond best to specific requests. Ask your board members to tare a particular action instead of just "helping with fund raising." Ask them to:

  • Make their own gifts first. They will be much better at asking someone else for money if they have already given themselves.
  • Think of people they know. Think about their family, neighbors, people they do business with, and people they have fun with. They are all great potential donors.
  • Talk to people about the organization. Tell at least one person each week about their experiences with the organization.
  • Invite the executive director to speak to their civic group, church group or other similar group. By putting the staff in front of a crowd, they are helping spread the word about the organization.
This is really solid advice for every Learning Center. Apply most of it and you will be successful!


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