February 10, 2014

Read this useful book, Boards on Fire! Inspiring Leaders to Raise Money Joyfully by Susan Howlett. Easy and fast to read. Very useful tips for your work with your board and its members.

Susan explores 11 barriers: Expectations are unclear. The Context is Cloudy. The Board Doesn’t Own the Budget. Trustees Aren’t Engaged in Governance. The Mission is Muddy. Goals Aren’t Driving Behavior. Outcomes Are Vague. The Fundraising Strategy is Ill-Defined. The Board Isn’t Being Used Optimally. Leaders Aren’t Equipped to be Ambassadors. Trustees Haven’t Seen Good Models.

And she has ideas about how to storm the barricade, topple over the barrier – or sneak around it!

Susan begins the book with a wonderful exposé about fear. Fundraising might be like a first swimming lesson, Susan says. She once watched a mom scream at her child: “Jump in the water!” But he wouldn’t jump. Instead, he stood on the edge of the pool and cried and screamed, “Noooo!” Mom promised that the teacher would catch him. Mom promised all would be fine.

But Susan reminds us: “What the mother failed to appreciate was that the little boy’s response was cannily appropriate. He knew he couldn’t swim and he had no proof that the teacher would catch him. He knew that when he threw things into water, sometimes they floated – and sometimes they sank to the bottom.”

I love Susan’s comment…”Cannily appropriate.”  Of course our board members are afraid of fundraising. You know it. I know it. Susan knows it. And if we’re honest, why wouldn’t board members be afraid? This could be a new activity for them. They aren’t experts like you’re supposed to be.

About Simone Joyaux

A consultant specializing in fund development, strategic planning, and board development, Simone P. Joyaux works with all types and sizes of nonprofits, speaks at conferences worldwide, and teaches in the graduate program for philanthropy at Saint Mary’s University, MN. Her books, Keep Your Donors and Strategic Fund Development, are standards in the field.

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