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August 15, 2020
 
Engage Board Members Now in Your Yearend Fundraising Campaign
By Robin L. Cabral

Robin Cabral
Robin Cabral
While many nonprofits are poised to execute their end-of-year fundraising campaign, it's essential that all their board members send a loud, clear message to their constituents that they support the organization’s mission.

The board is often the least likely group of constituents that is singled out for focused attention and solicitation within yearend campaigns. That's because they often don’t know their expectations concerning fundraising and how they can assist. It is our responsibility to enable and engage them in their roles.

Here is how to engage your board in your yearend campaign:
  1. Most critically, enlist your board chair to support the yearend campaign. If you have a board development committee, work to engage them in the process.

    It's essential that these leaders lead. After all, if they don't participate and donate in the year-end campaign, other board members will wonder why they should give and the community will question their commitment to the mission and not give themselves.

  2. Identify all of your board members and their past giving. Determine with the chair and development committee members what each member’s capacity may be and for how much you can feasibility ask them, depending upon their giving throughout the year.

    While some board members may question whether they should contribute financially to the year-end (and other fundraising) campaigns, the short answer is they should. Although the amount that everyone can donate varies, everyone can donate something. It is imperative that your board demonstrates its commitment to the mission and its stakeholders by reaching at least 100% board giving.

  3. Develop a plan for soliciting each board member personally for the desired ask amount. These solicitations must be “peer-to-peer” ”“ meaning that a board member, preferably the chair or at least a development committee member, solicits each board member.

    Plans enable success by spelling out time frames and interim milestones toward the goal. They also keep solicitors on track.

  4. Draft a solicitation letter that the board chair may use to pre-solicit board members. However, it is recommended that this pre-solicitation/call letter is followed up by an in-person solicitation whether by meeting or telephone.

    A pre-solicitation letter can be pivotal, because it sets the stage for an eventual in-person solicitation and also gives the Board members and opportunity to make their gift in advance of others.

  5. Solicitations must be conducted before the actual mass solicitations begin to demonstrate that you have the full commitment of your board. Thus, be prepared to start this process earlier rather than later. Ideally, you should begin to secure these commitments four months before yearend to leave ample time for follow-up.

    If your yearend is rapidly approaching and you have yet to secure all these commitments, then it needs to become a priority. The board chair should be engaged to conduct personal follow-up to ensure that 100% Board giving is reached before calendar year-end.

  6. Continue to conduct follow-up with board members until all gifts are made. Again, follow-up should be personal, conducted either through meetings or telephone and led by the board chair and a development committee member or two.

  7. Periodically report the success of board member giving. This should be done at each board meeting and throughout the solicitation process with email reminders and updates.

    Aim to achieve a goal of 100%: doing so communicates that all board members are expected to contribute (acknowledging that giving levels can and will differ) and that they are committed to the mission.

  8. Celebrate 100% giving and make a big deal about it, because... it is a big deal! Ideally, your board members should be the top donors to your organization.

    Achieving 100% giving by your board sets the stage for the rest of your campaign, as the community and your constituents will look to them for early leadership no matter the campaign.
Board solicitations are often a forgotten component of yearend fundraising campaigns. And, they should not be overlooked. The community expects to see the organization’s leadership front and center with their giving in all of your organization’s fundraising efforts. These are the easy steps that you can take to ensure that this happens in a timely manner.

Robin Cabral, principal of Development Consulting Solutions, is a certified fundraising executive who works with mid-sized nonprofits to build capacity and improve fundraising results. Email her at rcabral@developmentconsultingsolutions.com or call 508-685-8899.
November 2018
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