Mission Matters

MissionI work with a lot of nonprofit board members.  No board member has ever told me they joined a nonprofit’s board because they couldn’t wait to attend long meetings. No board member has told me that the reason for joining the board was excitement about revising bylaws or reviewing financial reports. And, no board member has told me the reason they serve on a nonprofit board is because they know hundreds of friends with millions of dollars and he or she just can’t wait to ask each of their millionaire friends to give all their money to the nonprofit.

Whether you are a board member, employee, or volunteer with a nonprofit organization, you likely got involved because of the organization’s mission. Perhaps the organization provides a service you believe is needed, serves a population you care about, or addresses a community issue you are passionate about. Mission matters.

The organization’s mission statement outlines the purpose or reason for the organization’s existence, how the organization intends to fulfill its purpose, and the ultimate benefit of the organization fulfilling its purpose.

Since the mission is truly what matters, look for ways to incorporate mission moments for your board members, employees and volunteers.  Explore these ways to create mission moments:

  • Invite a program recipient to share his/her story at a board meeting
  • Include a story about the mission’s impact in the organization’s newsletter
  • Host a committee meeting at a program delivery site
  • Feature a mission success story at a special event
  • Ask volunteers to share a story about why they are passionate about the mission

Incorporating these mission moments into your organization will continue to remind your board, staff and volunteers why they initially engaged with the organization. It will also feed their passion to carry out the not-so-exciting and not-so-glamorous tasks that are necessary. It will remind them that all of those tasks are steps towards accomplishing and fulfilling the mission they care about so deeply. Remind them that the mission matters.

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Increasing board engagement in fundraising

RecruitBoardMembersTo fulfill a nonprofit organization’s mission, it takes money. Through inviting the board of directors to engage in the fundraising process, organizations can achieve fundraising success and fulfill the mission.

Explore these 10 steps to increase board engagement with fundraising.

  1. Ask for a donation. The first step to engage a board in fundraising is for each of them to become a donor. Board giving demonstrates a personal commitment, encourages other funders to give, and creates board member ownership.
  2. Focus on the mission. Although board members may not have an inherent passion for fundraising, chances are they joined the board because they have a passion for the mission. Remember to bring mission moments into the board meeting to strengthen board members’ passions for your work. This enthusiasm can motivate board members to participate in fundraising activities so that the mission can be fulfilled.
  3. Develop expectations together. Instead of telling board members what they must do for fundraising, engage board members in the fundraising planning process and work together to develop expectations on board involvement with fundraising.
  4. Formalize their commitment. On an annual basis, ensure board members review their roles and responsibilities for resource development. Each board member should sign a board commitment form that outlines their pledge to accomplish specific fundraising tasks and achieve personal fundraising goals.
  5. Communicate a clear case. Provide board members with the knowledge and information to clearly articulate why the organization deserves financial support.
  6. Focus on the entire fundraising cycle. It is important to provide specific opportunities for board members to engage in all stages of the fundraising cycle, not only solicitation. Provide opportunities for engagement in other stages including cultivation and stewardship.
  7. Determine the structure. It is important to create and formalize the structure for engaging board members in specific fundraising tasks. For instance, if board members are going to make thank you calls to donors, clearly outline the process in which board members will receive the names and phone numbers of identified donors to call, provide talking points for the calls, and outline the process for reporting on completed calls.
  8. Provide ongoing training. Incorporate fundraising training into board meetings on a regular basis. Provide board members with the tools, resources and training opportunities for identifying prospective donors, asking for a gift, and thanking donors.
  9. Build relationships. Each board member is unique. Take the time to get to know each board member and the talents he or she can bring to the fundraising process. Be intentional in seeking individual board members’ insights on the fundraising process and ways he or she can personally engage in development activities.
  10. Recognize success. In board meetings, regularly recognize board members for specific successes with fundraising. Thanking and recognizing individual board member engagement with fundraising can encourage other board members to take action.

Implementing these strategies will harness board members’ talents and abilities to engage in resource development and achieve success in fundraising for your organization.

Related Post: 25 Ways to Engage Your Board in Fundraising

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Stop asking, start listening

ListenStop asking for donations every time you connect with a donor. Stop only making phone calls to donors when you are asking for a sponsorship donation. Stop only asking a donor out for coffee when you are asking them to support a new project.

Now is the time to stop asking and start listening to donors. To achieve long-term success with fundraising, it is important to build relationships with donors. Through engaging donors in conversations and listening to donors, you can cultivate and nurture donor relationships. These strong relationships can lead to high levels of lifetime giving from donors.

To intentionally start listening to donors, the first step is to identify ten donors you plan to engage in individual conversations. Start with the ten donors with highest cumulative giving, the ten most recent donors or the ten donors with the highest frequency of donations.

After identifying the donors, enlist the support of fellow staff members, board members or volunteers who will meet with and listen to the identified donors. This is a particularly great opportunity for board members to participate in the fundraising process as it is a very comfortable and low-pressure way to interact with donors.

Divide up the list of identified donors and ask each listener to commit to meeting with 2-4 of the donors during the next month. Provide a list of questions to each listener, and reiterate the importance of listening to the donors during these conversations. It is important to capture the donors’ ideas and then report those comments back to the organization to be documented in the donor database.

During the conversation with each donor, the listener can take note of donor’s responses to these questions:

  • Why did you first make a donation to XYZ organization?
  • Why do you care about our organization’s work with XYZ?
  • What is your experience with XYZ organization’s work?
  • What are your thoughts on how XYZ organization should move forward in our community?
  • What do you think the best strategy is for us to fundraise for XYZ organization?

Through engaging in conversations with donors, one can uncover the donors’ motivations for giving and interests, which can enable the organization to tailor future cultivations and solicitations for the individual donors. The conversations can also provide advice and guidance for the organization to help shape strategic decisions. In addition, the conversations strengthen the donors’ and the listeners’ relationships with your organization.

It is time to start listening.

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Posted in Board of Directors, Fundraising, Nonprofit Management | Tagged , , , , , , , | 3 Comments