Many executive directors and development directors are using the best practice of donor-centered fundraising to engage their major donors. Penelope Burke at Cygnus Applied Research has investigated why donors give and based on that research, champions donor-centered fundraising. What organizations have found, and her research substantiates, is that donors want meaningful engagement with the organizations to which they give. They want heartfelt, personal thank you notes and proof six months later that their money made an impact. Donors are willing to give more money, more often if these needs are met.
When brainstorming for a Collins Group webinar last month on Getting Board Members to Fundraise, I thought that if we only got to know our board members the way we get to know our major donors, we would all have much more meaningful relations – with each other and with the organization. Why not use the donor-centered approach for the board? Why not sit down with each board member and ask them why they decided to join the board, what they would like to accomplish this year, and what tasks they are willing to take on to further the mission? Often we assume that the accountant will be the finance chair because we need a finance chair and they have the skills. But is that what the accountant wants? Maybe they want to learn about service delivery or fundraising. You never know until you ask.
A good time to start this process is at the beginning of your fiscal year. It is a time of renewal and prioritization for the board. Here are three simple questions you can ask individual board members to have more meaningful conversations that help move your organization forward:
1) Why did you decide to join the board?
2) What do you hope to learn while on the board?
3) What are three things you would like to do this year to help us meet our mission?
I guarantee you will have more engaged board members if you listen to and act upon their answers to these questions. Of course, heartfelt thank you notes and proof that they made a difference will go a long way, too.
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About the Author
Kate’s talents include research, donor and volunteer relations, and refereeing pre-teen boys.