February 16, 2018

How to Ask Your Board for Fundraising Help

man and woman working on laptop projectYour board wants to help lead you to greater fiscal health. You want the same thing. Why then do so many CEOs tell me they’re disappointed in the board support they receive when it comes to generating income?

Often, boards don’t understand what you mean by “help.”

So they:

  • Interpret their roles as advisory and recommend tag sales, grants, and strong-arming new homebuyers with estates
  • Ignore your request and wait for another task they better understand
  • Decide you have the wrong priority. Since seven nonprofit income streams exist and since fundraising scares most, they steer you toward other possibilities.

To Maximize Your Results, Clarify Your Requests

 For example:

  • Will you call five donors by Friday to make a gratitude call? I’ll send you an email with names later today.
  • Can we sit down before our next meeting and identify ten people you know with a potential fit with our mission? What day’s work?

Let’s examine why specific requests work. They:

  1. Identify the Task

They’re specific and you provide even more details. In your email about thanking donors, along with names and telephone numbers, you include instructions, such as:

Gratitude Calls

Each call should last no more than five minutes unless the donor engages in you with questions or comments.   

  • Share your name and that you are a board member and a donor to (you name the nonprofit.)
  • Tell the donor that you learned that they recently made a gift and the call is to thank them.
  • Share that the gift is being put to use right away and how it will help. (You add one or two specifics.)
  • Close the call, thanking them again. Repeat your name.

Voicemail works. In that case, leave your phone number.

Please note the date and time you made the call if you reached the person or left a message and anything you learned about the donor. Send your results to (you add an email) so we can update our records. Thank you.

  1. Establish a Timeframe

Timeframes create urgency and deadlines. In the examples, they include:

  • Will you call five donors by Friday to make a gratitude call?
  • Can we sit down before our next meeting. . .
  1. Create a Feedback Loop  

Feedback loops establish closure. When you care about the task, be the person who initiates the follow-up. For example: “Can I call you on Monday to next see how it went?”

Your board will help you raise money. Today clarify your request for help. Identify the tasks. Establish timeframes and create feedback loops.

For more about gaining your board’s help, read this post, Creating Board Member Income Heroes. You will learn:

  • How to claim your superpowers
  • How to find board member income heroes
  • Who is in charge of creating board member income heroes

P.S. Need more help getting your board’s help? Karen is available for a mini-consult. Click here to contact her to learn more.

For more answers, check out this Nonprofit CEO Library.

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Karen Eber Davis

Karen Eber Davis provides customized advising and coaching around nonprofit strategy and board development. People leaders hire her to bring clarity to sticky situations, break through barriers that seem insurmountable, and align people for better futures. She is the author of 7 Nonprofit Income Streams and Let's Raise Nonprofit Millions Together.


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