Does the idea of looking like a fool make you happy?
Do you enjoy trying out new skills for the first time in front of people you want to impress?
I bet you answered these questions with a resounding “NO!”
Your Board Members Want to Be Successful
Most people want to be successful! They want to be competent and effective. They don’t want to feel inept or look like fools.
So how do you think your board members feel when you ask them to help raise money but they don’t know what they are doing?
Yup. They probably feel inept or even worse, foolish. You’re setting them up for failure.
No wonder so many of them resist!
How can you help your board members succeed?
It’s simple. Help your board members learn what they need to know and give them plenty of opportunity to practice.
Teaching people to do something well is seldom a one-shot deal.
You didn’t learn to swim in one session in the pool. And I’ll bet that you didn’t become an effective fundraiser in a day either.
The same is true of your board – they aren’t likely to become comfortable fundraisers, let alone skilled ones, after just one workshop or training session.
But don’t worry! Turning your board members into comfortable, effective fundraisers isn’t difficult – you just need a bit of planning.
Want Your Board Members to Raise Money? Train Them!
Let’s start with a simple question. Who in your organization is responsible for providing your board with fundraising training?
If your answer is “No one,” it’s high time that make fundraising training a regular part of your board’s agenda — and that someone’s responsible for it.
To help you get started, I’ve outlined a 3-tier training program that’ll give your board members what they need to become comfortable and effective fundraisers.
Part 1: Host an Occasional Fundraising Workshop
At least once a year, bring in a fundraising trainer to work with your board to develop their fundraising skills. You might work with your board leadership to plan a two or three hour board workshop shortly before you kick-off your major gift program.
To find a great trainer, check with other organizations in your community and look online for referrals. Make sure the person has experience engaging with and facilitating a group, not just talking to them – lectures are a poor way to teach new skills, particularly “people skills” like fundraising! (Note: email me for suggestions if you can’t find anyone great! Andy and I know lots of great fundraising trainers.)
Part 2: Do a Bit of Training at Every Board Meeting
Set aside a portion of every board meeting to help your board get more comfortable with fundraising.
Here are some things you might plan:
- Invite one of your major donors to a board meeting to talk about their experiences of being asked and giving.
- Use fifteen minutes for an ice-breaker or exercise relating to fundraising.
- Invite program directors in to talk about their programs. Or bring in outside experts to discuss topics related to your mission.
- If you provide enrichment at every board meeting, your board members’ attendance and enthusiasm will soar!
- Ask board members to relate their successful fundraising stories.
Our new book, Train Your Board (and Everyone Else) How to Raise Money is full of short, effective exercises. There’s even a menu of 12 short exercises to use at monthly meetings for year!
Part 3: Help Individual Board Members
Finally, in addition to group training, make it a point to help individual board members build their confidence and sharpen their skills.
For example, you might:
- Offer to practice a solicitation with individual board members before they meet with a donor so they have a chance to try out their approach.
- Provide a review session to a board member who wants to be sure they’ve mastered the most important facts about your organization.
- Prepare a short fact sheet or FAQ page that’ll give your board member answers to questions they might get from a donor.
- Send individual board members small articles and other helpful information you think they’ll find interesting and helpful.
- Pair up your less experienced board members with more experienced, confident members when you’re setting up ask meetings.
- Call your board members after their donor meetings to find out what happened.
Your Investment in Training Will Strengthen Your Board
And there you have it – if you invest some time and attention in training, with this three-part approach, you can transform your board into a confident, inspired fundraising group. I promise you, your investment of time and energy will pay off handsomely. Not only will your board members raise more money, but they’ll become more personally invested in your organization!