Keeping Your Board Enthused
If your organization is overly involved in special events, board members can easily get burned out. Your board members will not be happy if they are expected to sell tickets to their friends and family members for too many special events. Many of them will not be interested in golf, running, dancing, or whatever these events involve. You need to focus on one or two successful events and stress the board’s attendance to show the community that the board supports your organization. You will be more successful in enlisting their participation if you involve board members in planning these events.
Make sure your board members understand the importance of having a development plan that covers all areas of fundraising, from events to major gifts and planned gifts. Your development committee should be deeply involved in formulating this plan and presenting it to your board. It is better to have your board members ask other board members to get involved in fundraising than for staff to be the ones who insist on board involvement.
You can get your board members excited about fundraising by selecting the one individual on your board who most “gets it” about fundraising and have this individual chair your development committee. This board member’s enthusiasm will be contagious and may even spur fundraising competition among board members. You can also try bringing in a consultant to help motivate the board. If your organization cannot afford a consultant, try inviting a board member from a nonprofit whose board has been successful at fundraising to talk to your board about its role in fundraising. Be sure to select this person carefully. You don’t want someone who will just brag about the fundraising success of the other nonprofit's board, try to shame your board members into fundraising, or get dragged into the morass of a stagnant board. You want someone who will inspire and motivate your board.
Board education is essential. Timing of this education, however, is a critical element. You should plan some type of board education at every board meeting—even if it’s a ten-minute presentation on the role of boards in nonprofits, ethical issues for boards, making the case for your organization. You get the idea. For more intense sessions, schedule a time convenient for most board members. Often a Saturday morning or a two-hour session in place of—or before or after—a regular board meeting works well. Once a year, take your board away from the organization for a daylong retreat that includes some educational opportunities as well as time to plan.
Board educational sessions can be led by staff, but they’re usually more effective when brought from an outside perspective. Education needs to be ongoing but should be done in “chunks” of time and information given. Board members who have never raised funds can’t grasp it all in one sitting. A consultant, a board member from another organization, a video from BoardSource, or some other resource can often tell your board the things they need to hear in a new light.
You might want to send your board members to Board Bound Leadership training.
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