Many Non-Profit Board Members Fear and Loathe Fundraising
It begins with sweaty palms. It continues with “call reluctance” — phonophobia! It moves on to procrastination. And so goes the “IT”, the annual ritual of fundraising with the accompanying jitters and absolute loathing of annual campaigns by countless boards throughout this country.
At some point in the year most non-profits will plan for and conduct their annual fund raising campaign, involving the entire board of directors — from planning to execution. Board members will be asked to become very active and “ask” the community for money to support the organization they represent.
“ME!? You mean I have to ask people for money? What will my friends think? I’ve never sold a thing in my life and I just can’t approach people seeking their donation to my organization.” Well, fundraising doesn’t have to be a loathsome task for your board members.
An organization can ease the sweaty palms of board members who are petrified to ask for money by creating a solid, well-defined marketing campaign. The campaign must include strong supporting collateral materials for the board members to use as talking points and “leave-behinds”. Collateral materials will help open doors, close sales, and gain that donor’s money AND support — no different than “point-of-sale” materials for professional salespeople. But PLEASE, don’t stop there.
There must be “practice sessions” on how to use the materials. Practice, practice, practice. Planning, coaching, reinforcement and repetition will help to ease a number of the sales fears.
Ask any successful salesperson and they will tell you that “belief in my product, belief in my company, belief in what I’m doing” will help qualm so many sales fears. Well, that axiom also applies to board members who are embarking on a fundraising campaign. Rule #1 of Fundraising — RELAX! Enjoy the Experience.
Recruit some professional salespeople in the community who can lend their expertise in coaching your board on non-threatening approach language and “ice-breakers”. Follow Rule #2 — Eliminate Unnecessary Fundraising Competition. Make the fundraising an individual effort without the pressure of charts and graphs and that ugly thermometer that charts the progress of members. Focus on the individual doing his/her best because of their commitment to the organization.
The biggest “ice breaker” in the fundraising cycle I believe is the organization’s Vision, Mission, and Values. When it comes to fundraising for the organization, it is critical to focus on those three crucial elements that define an organization. Coupled with the board member’s belief statement. The door opener and “ice breaker” becomes a lot easier when the fundraiser believes in the VMM of the organization.
Remember that the majority of your volunteers on the board are not sales professionals. Take the time to develop training and coaching sessions on fundraising approach techniques before your organization takes the “front-end loader” approach of dumping materials on a board member’s lap and saying “now go out and raise funds!”
You’re in the people business. Focus on approaching people and “selling the VMV” of the organization and the dollars will follow. And remember Rule #3 — “A ‘no’ is not personal!
Eliminate the fear factor and put FUN and training into fundraising.