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Turn Your Board Members Into Fundraising Superheroes!

The evidence is everywhere, and I’ve seen it work.  Successful nonprofits have board members that are their “fundraising superheroes!”

These are the people who have the passion, desire, and motivation to make great things happen at a nonprofit organization. Right?

If your answer is, “Hmmm, I’m not so sure,” then the reason is usually due to something very simple. A lack of training and support. Board members are not mind-readers. You think they come in to your organization knowing what to do, but in reality, they need specific words to say. They need training… and then practice, practice, practice!

Ok, I hear you saying this now. “My board members don’t know wealthy people.” or, “My board members are too shy.”  Well, they do know people, and lots of people, whether they realize it or not. If asked to make a list of all the people they know, it is usually 70-150 names long. That’s right.

So, they are still uncomfortable. Not everyone on the board needs to be an “asker.” Some can be “thankers” or “storytellers” or “community ambassadors.”

“Thankers” could make phone calls to major donors after a gift and just say, “Thank you for your gift, it meant so much to our beneficiaries,” with a specific example of how one beneficiary was impacted by their gift.

 “Storytellers” share stories of the nonprofit’s work on their Facebook pages or through e-mail, including their own personal stories of why they got involved in the first place.

What is a “community ambassador,” you ask? Someone who is comfortable speaking with others one-on-one at a social event or to a group at a local civic club, or house of worship, who can spread stories of your good work.  See what I mean? There is a role for everyone. What makes a good story?

Here are some simple tips-

  • Make your story compelling.. so compelling that your audience wants to go to your Web site and click “donate now” or write that check…
  • Drive with emotion. Good stories are “donor-centric” – how will the donor feel by giving?
  • Demonstrate the impact of a $50, $100, or a $250 gift or more in real terms of what that donation will DO for a beneficiary your organization supports.

Here is what a CEO client sent me after a board retreat training –

“The thought of fundraising for any Board is scary! During our Board Retreat, Ayda was able to take that discussion and make it fun, give direction, and show all of us that this task can be easy! We were able to walk out with tactics and samples to use and make fundraising a positive and successful task.” – Kylie McCleaf, MA, CPRP, Chief Executive Officer, Family Services, Inc.

It CAN be done!


P.S. Check out veteran fundraiser Carol Weisman’s book, “Fundraising Superheroes,” a whimsical look at board members learning to fundraise, a motivational book they will actually read. You can find it here.