I do fundraising trainings with nonprofit board members, some of whom are bigwigs and have big day jobs -- who might take major risks on stocks or who put together multi-million dollar deals. Some of them literally dive off of cliffs. For fun!
But then I ask them for a one-word association with the word "fundraising."
You know what the number one answer is -- by far?
Look -- I get it. It's that weird thing people have about talking to people about their own money. Maybe it feels inappropriate in some way?
But I'll be blunt -- you have to stop thinking of it this way. And with all due speed. It's the year's end! So many people do their charitable giving now. So, (doing my best Joe Biden impression) "Come on folks! You gotta get out and ask em!"
Executive directors know I am truth-telling when I say that board members always say they need that one more thing they don't have before they go out and ask. If they only had:
- A two page memo of talking points
- A list of benefits for giving at a certain level
- A brand new program
- Detailed statistics on the urgency of your work
With those items in hand, they would have everything they need.
I'll be blunt again. This is simple procrastination and fear avoidance. You're brave in so many areas of your life -- time to step up and be brave here too.
To be fair, you as board members do need something from your executive director before you can ask someone to contribute before year-end. But the list includes none of the above items.
Here's the list. It only has one item on it.
It's an email from your executive director that lands in your Inbox ASAP. That's it. Easy.
Now -- executive directors -- what should you put in this email? A few things, and you have easy access to them without doing much work at all:
- One really great story about your work. It should be simple, concrete and emotional. Board members should not have to work hard to remember it. It should be sticky. It should be current.
Really. I am not kidding. Remember the word in the title? "Terrified." Clearly, people who are terrified are terrified of something.
So here's the real question worth talking about with board and volunteers: