I think fundraisers and fundraising consultants scare board members. I think the way fundraisers – staff or consultants – talk about fund development causes most of the avoidance problems. And I worry that it isn’t just the way fundraisers talk about fund development. I worry it’s the way fundraisers think about fund development!
For example: Do you ask your board members to contact their friends and colleagues to buy event tickets or give charitable gifts? Bad! Instead, ask your board members to identify those who might be interested. Then explore that possible interest, that possible link. And qualify them as prospects or leave them alone.
For example: Do you talk mostly about asking for money when you talk about fund development with your board members? Bad! Instead, talk about cultivating relationships. Talk about the wonderful conversations board members can share with those who might be interested and with those who are interested. Help board members explore their own interests and help them understand how to explore the interests of others. I suspect that a good 70% of the work of fund development is not asking for the gift.
For example: Are you frustrated with board members who refuse to ask for gifts. Bad! Instead, involve these board members in relationship building. And when it’s time to solicit, bring along a board member to tell stories, not solicit. You can ask for the gift. Or another board member who is comfortable asking can ask.