I remember a new board member saying when he came on the board, “I don’t have a Rolodex. Don’t expect me to provide any names.”
It is discouraging to hear those words from a board member. They don’t all have to help with names and introductions. However, every board member can support you in the fundraising process. There are many roles for them to play. They could invite people to an event, ensure potential or major donors feel special at the event, share a “why I give” story at an event or in a newsletter, or call donors to say thank you for a recent gift.
You want to make it easy for board members to help you with fundraising — with the donor giving process. You need their help! As awkward as it may seem, nonprofit leaders, you have to “show and tell” board members how they can help you. Board members want to help; They just need some guidance.
The perfect and the most needed times for a board member to help you are following an event. You have a lot of follow-up calls and visits to make. Since most of your immediate follow-up calls and visits are not “ask” visits, board members who shy away from the asking for money are ideal for assisting you.
The time following an event is as critical as getting the right people to your event. An event is a waste of time if you don’t follow up with your potential and current major donors in attendance.
Your follow up plan need not be complicated. It could include just three strategies!
Here are the three best of the best event follow-up strategies that engage board members without asking them to ask for a gift:
1. Call to say thanks for coming.
This can be from staff or board members or both. Here is your phone script, “Hi Jo, this is John Smith. I am on the board of the ABC nonprofit. I am thrilled you were able to join us at our xyz event last week. We really appreciate your being there (pause for response). I hope you learned more about what we do and will become more involved (pause for feedback). What interests you most about our organization?”
Don’t’ hesitate to leave a voice message!
2. Invite for a group tour.
Have board members invite those who have joined you at your events or who just need to get to know the organization better.
Set scheduled tours (i.e., 1st Tuesdays) Have executive director lead the tour or select staff. Invite a board member always to be present as a representative who can advocate for the organization as someone other than staff.
If you don’t have a location to show off, identify how to best to present your work.
3. Invite to give advice.
You likely have people who have attended some of your events and shown interest in your organization’s work. Consider their expertise on a matter. Seek their opinion on how they view the impact of a specific program. Continuously seek feedback from your community leaders about your organization’s work. It helps to have new perspectives on program and service offerings, for example.
Following an event, if a board member is eager to seek support from a potential donor ready to give, help set up that “ask” meeting!
Now that the event has passed, implement the follow-up plan you developed before the event ever took place! Making calls to say thank you to potential and major donors is enjoyable!
This is the third blog in a three-part series about engaging major donors before, during, and after events. In my blog, Series I: Before an Event, 4 Steps to Engage Major Donor Prospects, I share how to get the right people at your events. Board members have a role in this.
In my blog, Series 2: How to Ensure VIP Experiences at your next Event, I share eight considerations to make the donor feel special.
Let me hear your successes of engaging potential and current major donors before, during and after an event!
Nancy Rieves, Ed.D. is a fundraising coach. She provides executive and development directors with a roadmap to maximize and sustain major gift fundraising. She prepares leaders to be confident and successful in raising money. Reach her at email@example.com.
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