November 11, 2019

Why Your Board’s Unenthusiastic About Finding New Donors

Woman with hands up pushing back

When you ask your nonprofit board to connect you with their friends, they hear:

“Can I contact all your friends to SELL them something?”

If someone you barely know asks you this, you say no. Yet, this is what board members often hear when nonprofit leaders ask them to share the names of their business contacts, friends, and relatives.

We’re disappointed by their reluctance to give us names. However, if they turned the tables, you’d say no, too.

Your board wants to help. They just aren’t willing to step outside their comfort zone. Relinquishing the names of their friends makes them squirm. Even if they trust you with their lives, the risk seems too big to trust your organization with this information.

What to Do to Get Your Board to Put More People in Your Donor Pipeline

How can you expand your donor pipeline by connecting with your board’s contact?

Grow your board’s comfort zone when it comes to funding. Everyone has a unique comfort zone. To start, request help for activities inside their comfort zone.

You’re comfortable doing any tasks you’ve accomplished already. For you, calling ten people, you don’t know and asking for money and having nine of them say no, comes with the territory.

For a board member, this might be miles outside their comfort zone, somewhere near Mars. This is true even if they do something similar in their daily lives. It’s also probably true if they nod their head in agreement when you ask for this help, and they fail to follow through. If the task is uncomfortable, they will be “too busy” or give some other excuse why they did not get it done.

You can discover an individual’s comfort zones with direct questions and observations.

Or, you can skip the step and instead request help with small, safe, likely to succeed tasks. One starter task is making calls to thank donors.

To grow your board’s enthusiasm, they need to succeed. To help them succeed, you’ll want to provide detailed instructions, even if they insist they aren’t necessary.

With thanking donors, they and your organization will benefit from written instructions include what to say at first and responses to different comments a donor might give, if it’s okay to leave a message, and so forth.

In Let’s Raise Nonprofit Millions Together, I explore the concept in-depth of helping board members succeed and task that board members can do to help your fundraising efforts shine. You’ll find practical examples, including a hierarchy of donation-seeking tasks from the easiest to challenges.  The advice in the book and here was developed, partnering with clients to transform board member reluctance to great enthusiasm for fundraising.

Your board wants to help. Start with tasks inside their comfort zone. Help them to love fundraising and to connect their friends and contacts to your nonprofit with confidence.

Find Out More

Related Articles 

Guilty as Charged: Prove Your Board Supports Your Organization

How to Stop Your Board from Micromanaging | Good Boundaries Make Good Board Members

Karen’s CEO Solutions Library: Your  collection of resources for nonprofit CEOs and executive directors about common leadership challenges.

If you’d like to know more about better ways to work with your board, please don’t hesitate to set up a time to talk. I’d love to partner with you and your board to deliver more money into your budget and have a blast doing it together.

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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