Here’s the dream: You have a fundraising board. Your board members are introducing you to people in their network, bringing in corporate sponsorships for events, and filling their event tables with amazing prospects. Oh, and, they are signing letters, making thank you calls, and going on solicitation meetings with you.
Here’s the reality: We ask our board members to do too many things that are out of their skillset or comfort zone. You’re reading this and probably thinking, “I just need to train them to raise money.” It’s not that easy. And, you’re setting yourself up to manage an impossible situation.
Where Fundraisers Go Wrong
We think of our board members as full-time fundraisers who know how to do everything we ask of them. They probably follow through on the items that are in their comfort zone. The secret is to deploy each board member in the right way so that they can be successful.
Creating Your Fundraising Board
There are four types of fundraising board members, and each contribute in their own way. When you start to think of your board members based on where they are (not where you want them to be), you’ll be much more successful in engaging them. Additionally, they will have a better experience with the organization.
- The Connector – These are the board members with amazing networks. They enjoy connecting the network with their passion, and could easily fill an event table or bring friends in for a site tour. Their network is comprised of the right prospects (corporate, foundation, and individual) and they can open doors when needed. However, just because they know the right people doesn’t mean Connectors feel comfortable asking for gifts.
- The Storyteller – These board members can articulate the mission and its impact beautifully. They have great enthusiasm and can tailor their messages based on their audience. They bring listeners along a vulnerable, truthful, and trustworthy journey. Although they can move others emotionally, they do not always feel comfortable asking for gifts.
- The Visionary – These board members help you see what the future of the organization could look like. They bring creativity, imagination and wisdom, and should be engaged when it comes to strategic planning and capital campaign discussions. They might even bring a fresh perspective to your fundraising plan. This board sub-set is brilliant at thinking about the organization’s future, but are usually not comfortable asking for gifts.
- The Closer – These are your solicitors! They do not shy away from the ask and can be taken on any solicitation. They like meeting new people and can have deep, meaningful conversations that demonstrate their connection to the organization. If they themselves are a major donor, they will bring social proof and speak to why they give.
Building Your Fundraising Board
Most fundraisers expect their board members to be each on of the types above. In reality, those are rare gems and you might only have one or two that fit all four profiles. Now that you have a framework in which to view your board members, you will now want to categorize each board member and deploy them appropriately. You can download our free board assessment tool here.
As fundraisers, we have to be connectors, visionaries, storytellers, and closers, but we can’t expect every board members to be those as well.
About Mary Hackett
Mary is a fundraiser & operations strategist who specializes in helping development offices create deep, meaningful experiences for their donors.
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