• October 24, 2014

Inspiring Your Board to Raise Money

Tuesday, October 28, 2008, at 12 noon, U.S. Eastern time

The weak economy has nonprofit organizations searching for creative ways to raise money.

For many institutions, the first step is getting board members to increase their efforts to solicit money. But that is tough, especially at a time when many trustees are worried about their own financial security.

How can your organization best inspire board members to solicit donations? What are other organizations doing to build better relationships with their board members?

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The Guest

Carol Weisman is president of Board Builders, in St. Louis, which advises nonprofit groups on management and governance issues.

Gail S. Meltzer, CFRE, is a senior fund raising expert for Core Strategies for Nonprofits in Miami.

The Rev. Jerry Paul is president and chief executive of the Deaconess Foundation, an organization that works to improve health for children in low-income neighborhoods in St. Louis.

David Strom is an information technology expert and writer in St. Louis.

A transcript of the chat follows.

Peter Panepento (Moderator):
    Hello and welcome to today's live discussion on inspiring your board to raise money. This is an important topic for most charities at all times. But it is especially timely now, as many groups are grappling with how to manage their way through economic uncertainty. We have four fantastic guests here today to take your questions. So let's get started.

Peter Panepento (Moderator):
    To ask a question, please click on the "ask a question" link on this page and type in your query.

Question from Becky, public charter school:
    We have a 9-member board comprised primarily of individuals who have almost no background or experience in fundraising. While we've been trying to recruit a board member who could be actively engaged in and lead our fundraising efforts, we have yet to find that person. What are your thoughts on the pros and cons or hiring a development director either full time or part time? Are there particularly useful places to advertise for such a position? And, finally, could you offer some suggestions regarding our board recruitment difficulties? Thanks for you help!

Carol Weisman:
    You could really use a part time development professional. A word of warning. With little to no track record of organizational fundraising, it will take up to 2 years for this person to earn his or her salary. You can advertise on line with Craig's list and AFP (the Association for Fundraising Professionals) Be prepared to work just as hard with a fundraising professional involved. The will steer the ship, but everyone has to keep rowing.

Question from Beatrice, small nonprofit:
    When selecting individuals for board membership, are there any traits that signal an excellent ability to persuade their personal contacts to give? I have seen board members with a large number of personal contacts or a lot of financial connections whose contacts were quite unresponsive.

Gail S. Meltzer:
    This is a great example of why we should not invite people to serve on boards JUST because they are influential and know influential/affluent people. One of the most important traits that organizations should look for is passion for the mission, and an interest in sharing that passion with colleagues, friends and family. Then, it is the responsiblity of the organization to give board members the tools to feel comfortable advocating for the organization with others (e.g., talking points, case for support, solicitation training, etc.). One other quick point: in general, don't invite people who are serving on many OTHER boards to serve on yours. Then you have the issues of divided loyalty and limited time.

Question from Joshua Case, small nonprofit:
    How do you inspire and motivate a lackluster board that indirectly indicates its members are too busy to help with fundraising?

The Rev. Jerry Paul:
    First, be sure time is the real issue. It may be a cover for their discomfort with the task. If they are really too busy, spend some time with the board exploring how the issue of fundraising can be addressed given their circumstances. For the long term, board recruitment will need to include selection of people who commit up front to making fundraising a priority. There is no silver bullet and certainly not for changing behavior in the short term if being busy is the real issue.

Question from Enrica Chretien, Rutgers School of Engineering:
    Is it possible to overwhelm your volunteer Board members with too much all at once? I just had a Board meeting today in which I went over the responsibilities of the Board as well as an overview of our very ambitious fundraising goals. The Board members had excellence suggestions and discussion but I fear they comprehend all too well just how daunting a task we have ahead of us.

Carol Weisman:
    Yes, you can overwhelm them. Are they buying in? Make sure that everyone has a chance, one by one, to say what they can realistically do so that you know if they will actually perform where you expect them.

Question from Peter Panepento:
    Hi David. Can you talk a bit about some of the best practices you've observed in terms of using social media and other tools to engage boards?

David Strom:
    The two best tools are Facebook and LinkedIn. It really depends on how many members are already using either service, and what level of comfort they have with PCs in general. In terms of best practices, they involve connecting to your donors and keeping them updated on your activities so they feel more a part of the org's process, using these tools to keep track of who has given and who has just pledged funds. Ideally, you want your org. to be findable online and visible on these networks, to also attract new donors too.

Question from Ned Hodgman, Understanding Government:
    What if the majority of your Board has made clear to you -- fairly directly -- that they don't want to commit to fund raising because they were brought on the Board for other reasons? I realize you have to add new Board members, but do you have tips on how to present the changes to the existing Board? Is it a matter of "rotating off"? Thanks.

Carol Weisman:
    There are many ways to get the board involved in fundraising even is they are "ask averse." You can start asking them to call and thank current donors. You can ask them open doors. The bottom line is that they need to be trained. You can do this during a board retreat. Without training, it is unlikely that those who might be willing will ever get moving. The rest might choose to move to a committee. Ultimately, with the current fundraising culture being so competitive, you won't be able to have a board that doesn't commit.

Question from Ann, history museum:
    Like many boards, ours has not been a "fund raising board" and it has been a challenge to to make the shift in expectation and culture. What suggestions do you have for creating a culture of fundraising among and within our board?

The Rev. Jerry Paul:
    1. Talk about the issue openly in a board setting and help the board answer this question for themselves. They probably have very good ideas but may not have a forum for communicating them. 2. Clarify the tasks associated with fundraising and be clear about what needs to be done. Understand the gifts and strengths of each board member and try to connect them to a task or role with which they are comfortable. (Sometimes, the topic of "fundraising" feels overwhelming and too large.) 3. Be clear what success would look like for your organization if it had a culture of fund raising. A good deal of dialogue is necessary to get everyone on the same page and over whatever hurdles they may have.

Question from Bob:
    Is it fair to assume ALL board members will help raise funds? And don't we limit the ways in which board members can help, e.g., finding in-kind donations, opening doors to strategic alliances, focusing on the brand promise, etc.

Gail S. Meltzer:
    Bob, I think it is fair to expect all board members to play a role in helping identify and cultivate prospects and donors through a variety of ways from something as benign as bringing someone in for a tour or researching grant opportunities to, at the other end of the spectrum, actually sitting down and asking for support. Not every board member will be comfortable or effective at "making the ask," but those who are should be supported in this role. That being said, the entire fund raising effort must be coordinated through staff, so that board members are not out cultivating and asking willy nilly with no control over who is doing what.

Question from Peter Panepento:
    David -- a lot of folks at smaller organizations either do not have the time or are not familiar with online tools such as LinkedIn and Facebook. Should they be actively searching for board members who can help their groups participate in these arenas? Is this already happening at some groups?

David Strom:
    I think you need a variety of ages, experiences, and backgrounds for any successful board, and that goes for computer skills as well as everything else -- legal, HR, finance, etc. I do think you should have someone from your staff who has the knowledge to lead an in-house seminar that shows the board what is involved, what is possible, what isn't desirable, etc.

But the short answer to this q, is YES!

Question from Tracy, children's museum:
    We have, like many non-profits, a few strong board members actively engaged in our fundraising (focused mainly on a capital campaign right now)while the rest are not engaged. We've tried trainings and presentations, motivational and passionate request/challenges for help and are now planning a workshop with them. Do you have suggestions for effective hands-on activities that can be used in this type of setting to get them motivated, but also so they get it and follow through?

The Rev. Jerry Paul:
    Not all board members are capable of the same level or quality of involvement in fund raising. Do you know why there is not as much as you would like? The items you mention that you have tried sound like they may be more "top-down" approaches, or "telling." Having a facilitated session that focuses first on whether or not you have agreement among your board members about what successful fundraising participation means in your organization may be helpful. I believe strongly in the need to diagnose carefully the motivation and attitude of each trustee before developing strategies to get them involved or asking them to engage in fund raising. So, first be sure you understand your trustees and be careful about assuming that you know why they are not more engaged.

Question from Cindy, HHFI:
    We have a board in transition -- from an investment oversight focus to a more "traditional" nonprofit board. We are struggling to provide appropriate education to the entire group, while recruiting new members, all of which is occuring at the same time we are trying to implement fundraising programs, including an annual appeal campaign. With the current economy, what is the single most important message and/or task we should be conveying to/asking of our board members?

Gail S. Meltzer:
    Cindy, What a great and difficult question! This is especially tough to answer because your board is in transition. However, I think above all the staff and board together should be of "one voice" in communicating to prospects and donors the strengths of the organization and exactly how it is navigating these troubled waters. This is the time to focus on the organization's vision, how you are repositioning yourselves to get there, and how you understand the challenges that your donors themselves are facing on a personal and/or business level. Staff must help board members understand and embrace their proper roles as advocates and friend-raisers, and give them tools to do this in the correct way. Also, it is very important for board members to make some kind of annual gift to the organizaiton, in whatever way they are able at this time.

Question from Allison MacBride, DC Charter High School:
    I've had trouble getting my board to give, let alone ask for money before the financial crisis, how do I broch the subject with them now? What is a good first step?

Carol Weisman:
    It is all about the mission. Start with, "We can't serve our students without everyone doing their bit. It has to start with everyone in this room." If they won't give, you might just have a board that doesn't believe in the mission. If they don't give, then you might have the wrong people in the room.

Comment from Melissa, small nonprofit:
    Hi. All the questions I came here with have been addressed -- which is fantastic. I would like to be able to share this with our VP and CEO, but they are traveling for a conference right now. Will this discussion be available afterwards?

Peter Panepento (Moderator):
    Hi Melissa. This discussion (and all of our previous discussions) will be archived for free. It will be accessible at http://philanthropy.com/live (and you can browse through all of our previous transcripts there, too).

Question from Kim, medium nonprofit:
    Our board has traditionally focused its development energies on several special events; a board member heads up each event and most of the others have little participation except for making a donation. How can we encourage board members to take on the responsibility of bringing money in, and to look at development strategy beyond special events?

Carol Weisman:
    First, before you have a special event, ask every board member in the room what their level of involvement will be. For instance, if you plan to have a dinner dance, ask how many tables they will bring. If you realize that they aren't going to participate, you might want to rethink the event. Also, you need a development plan that plays to the strength of the board. Are they web-savvy? Should you be fundraising more on the web? What about getting them involved in donor recognition? Give them options.

Question from Scott , small private college:
    Do you have any particular advice for explaining to board members that the projects included in a campaign that is about to launch are a dire necessity, and we don't have an option of postponing the campaign, but need to look at more creative forms of gifts and longer payouts? (Our board is newly becoming energized for its fundraising role).

The Rev. Jerry Paul:
    1. Formulate stories about the impact on human lives of not proceeding. Stories about what happens to people are far more powerful than spreadsheets, and powerpoint presentations, to say nothing of "talking head" explanations. 2. Similarly, tell stories of what fabulous things can happen for people if they succeed. 3. Be sure trustees have a direct experience of the programs or services for which they are going to raise money -- get them out of the board room and onto the campus, inside buildings, sitting with students or alumni, where they develop a first hand feel. 4. Be sure that you and they have a common definition of dire necessity. What is urgent for staff sometimes is not urgent for board members.

Peter Panepento (Moderator):
    We're halfway through today's live discussion, which is a good spot to remind those who haven't yet asked questions that time is getting short. Please click on the "ask a question" link and type in your query if you'd like to get your issue addressed. Thanks.

Question from Evan Lowenstein :
    What, specifically, are the most effective, creative "nudging" techniques that development staff can use to motivate Trustees to cultivate and solicit prospects?

Carol Weisman:
    Use a weekly or monthly on-line "Good News Gazette" to feature board members who are involved. It might go "Special thanks to Mary and Antoine for sending in their list for the dinner dance. Also, a special thanks to Margaret for setting up lunch for our CEO at the xyz Corporation. Make a MAJOR fuss at the board meetings over people who are involved and share ways other can be as well.

Question from BAN, small rural hospital:
    How to start? Our foundation board has never participated in a fundraising campaign, beyond responding with a check in answer to a campaign letter. They faithfully attend meetings, have lunch and wish us luck! They've even silently declined participating in a challenge to provide names of potential donors that I could visit, with a promise to guarantee or protect the source!

Carol Weisman:
    They may need some training. Consider a board retreat that will do two things: 1. Make it clear what you need to do to serve the people in the community and what services/equipment are not available. 2. Training them in how to give.

Question from Andrea, medium size nonprofit:
    Our organization is currently grappling with how to create an advisory board. That is, moving some board members whose initial purpose on the board has been served and who now are not particularly active and aren't in a position to do any significant fund raising. What are your suggestions for how to go about creating an entity like this, and communicating new role expectations to board members that might comprise the advisory board.

Gail S. Meltzer:
    Andrea, First, please don't call this entity an advisory BOARD. Since it will not be a governing entity, this may create confusion. Please call it something like advisory council or advisory committee. And please don't create it just to park former board members! This can be a great tool for involving all sorts of people who for one reason or another are not appropriate for your board, not only former board members. You'll need to create a job description for what this council will do (meet regularly with the organization's leadership to keep apprised of the organization's activities; introduce prospects to the organization; join the speakers bureau; invite propsects to organization events, etc). Give the council meaningful work to do to help find and cultivate friends for the organization. It can also be a training ground for potential board members. In terms of moving current board members onto the council, you can do this in ways that validate and thank the board member for his or her service and offer him or her an opportunity to continue to serve the organization they love in a different but important capacity.

Question from Leslie, non-profit:
    Who is the most effective motivator for inspiring board members to fund raise? And if it's an organization outsider, where do we look?

Carol Weisman:
    You can inspire people from inside or out. The key is to bring the mission to the meeting. Every meeting should have a "mission moment" where the board connects to the needs you have organized to address. Look at who you are serving. Whether it is an orchestra or kids with cancer, bring in the experts so that the board will understand what can be done with more resources.

Question from Cathy Kushner:
    What are some successful strategies that work with individuals who are committed to the mission but don't feel they have much to add to the institution's advancement efforts either because of insecurity with fund raising or because they have few appropriate contacts?

The Rev. Jerry Paul:
    One of the painful realities of nonprofits is that we often have mission people on our boards when we also need money people. They are not mutually exclusive groups, but it does represent a challenge to get both. The most important strategy, I believe, is first to find meaningful ways to "hear" what they think and feel, both at the individual and group level. Fundraising can be scary if not parsed in understandable ways. Perhaps you need someone to volunteer to put together a direct mail campaign that doesn't require asking their neighbors face-to-face. Be clear yourself how to divide the work of fundraising into meaningful, doable segments that people can take on. Don't ask people to do something they are not capable of. So, first understand what they are capable of and willing to do. And also explore with the group how to accomplish what is needed and let them help answer your question or reframe the question.

Question from Pamela Reed Sanchez, George Eastman House:
    It's estimated that 80% of major gifts come from people in the financial services sector. That's certainly been true at our museum. So, what now? And how can we excite our trustees to approach people at this critical time?

Carol Weisman:
    This might be a time for donor cultivation rather than the ask. People are scared and worried about their portfolios, even those who have gone from $50M to $30M in assets. Ask your trustees to bring people in to get to know you and ask when their portfolios fatten up.

Question from Tara, small nonprofit:
    Any great ideas to transition the culture of a board which has not historically been fundraising oriented to a more fundraising orientation?

Carol Weisman:
    Make it fun and celebrate victories. You have to train them, them reinforce good behavior and get everyone excited about the future and what can be done. Play to individual strengths, so if you have someone who is willing and able to grant research, get them focused there, get others to focus where they might be most comfortable.

Question from Jeannette Archer-Simons, CFRE, Consultant:
    I have found that giving the board specific tasks like calling donors to say thank you with a few questions to get to know them, or bringing a specific project that needs funding to a board meeting and brainstorming on who is connected to individuals who may be passionate about the project helps. What other suggestions to you have for fund raisers on small tasks that can involve board members in the funding process.

The Rev. Jerry Paul:
    1. Ask them to write their story (or communicate to a recorder) about why they are involved in the organization, the way people describe why they tune in to the local NPR station when the station is doing its annual campaign. If you do this, find multiple ways to use their stories. 2. Ask them to brainstorm what donors are likely to want to hear from the organization. Have them go out and do some interviews, not to ask for money, but ask past donors what sold them on the idea to give. I'm not sure we always mine fully the information current donors can provide. 3. Have them talk with friends about the boards on which they serve and how their organization handles fund raising. 4. For people who enjoy the internet, let them research the issue of fundraising for organizations like theirs. 5. Ask the board members to brainstorm how to unbundle the fundraising task into manageable pieces.

Question from Cindy, development consultant:
    Many non-profits are facing much competition, particularly with year-end giving, and most especially for non-social service organizations. What tools can you suggest for board members to help make the case for giving when social needs seem so great in the current economy?

Carol Weisman:
    It is about the greater blessings in life. We need food and shelter, as well as art and culture and a clean environment. It is about thriving rather than surviving. There are great agencies that help people to survive. You are probably in the biz of helping people thrive.

Question from Jeannette Archer-Simons, CFRE, Consultant:
    Many board members today are commenting on the state of the economy as an reason not to fund raise. Helping board members understand that people will still give, but they may make choices and our organization needs to be an organization of choice is key. How would you recommend that we inspire the board to help donors make that choice.

Gail S. Meltzer:
    Jeanette, one of the things I have been doing is sharing the wonderful article titled "Resilient Philanthropy" in the Sep/Oct issue of AFP's Advancing Philanthropy magazine. It provides data about how historically giving manages to continue, usually at a high level, even during times of financial trouble. Even though what we are seeing is unlike anything that went before, the way philanthropy hangs in there is clearly evident. I also believe it is important for organizations and board members to keep moving forward; as noted in a previous answer, organizations must communicate how they are repositioning themselves for success in these challenging times to inspire confidence and continued giving in donors. While donors may/will have to restructure their giving, they WILL give. Our local public radio station here is South Florida just completed an extremely successful fund drive. That is certainly encouraging!

Question from Gail Perry, author of Fired Up Fundraising Turn Your Board's Passion into Action :
    Hi Carol! I have found that because many newvous board members think fundraising equals "asking" -that they don't want to participate in all the other important activities that go into the fundraising process. You mentioned earlier asking reluctant board members to take on "non-ask" roles that support fundraising. Has that gone over well with the boards you have worked with? and how has it worked specifically?

Carol Weisman:
    For everyone, get ahold of Gail's great book "Fired Up Fundraising." Anyway, boards I have worked with who are thanking donors are doing incredibly well. The donor gift amount has increased signficiantly. Also, many of the boards I am working with who are using board members to set up meetings and to reach out to their personal e-mail lists are also seeing great results.

Question from Joshua Case, small nonprofit:
    Is it wise to have different committees set up so that those who show the most interest and are most talented at raising funds join a development committee, where as others would be on separate committees?

The Rev. Jerry Paul:
    I think development committees make sense but only if they have the kind of people who are really committed to and knowledgeable about fundraising. Just as some people feel passionate about the organization's mission, you will need people who feel passionate about the task of fundraising. Make sure the job description is clear for their task.

I once heard of a hospital that set up a Thousand Dollar Club. The only purpose of this group was to get together 1 time each year for a celebration and very nice dinner. They received information from the organization on a regular basis. But the real draw was the people who were members. They had the kind of people others wanted to be associated with or rub elbows with. Such a group, if put together well, is a different approach to the same committee idea.

Question from Marie, large non-profit:
    I have heard Board members say, " I am not contacting my friends or colleagues for donations. They avoid me because I'm always asking for money." How do we get around that way of thinking?

Carol Weisman:
    Ask them to introduce their friends to your organization and then let others make the ask. For instance, ask them to set up a tour and let you and other staff get their friends involved. Get the board member out of the middle.

Question from Ann, history museum:
    What role does/should the development committee play in this regard?

Gail S. Meltzer:
    Ann, a board's fund development committee can help "interpret" the fund raising program for the full board, and individual members of the committee can be role models and advocates for full board participation in the program. Also, fund development committees should allow non-board members to join. Here is where you can find skill sets that might not currently be available to you from board members, such as public relations, IT, etc. The board committee partners closely with staff to build and analyze the entire development program. I usually recommend to my clients that the committee have sub-committees, such as annual appeal(s), online fundraising, planned giving, special events, etc. to divide up and organize the work.

Question from Enrica, Rutgers School of Engineering:
    Out of the so far 7 members of our Board, 4 live at a great distance away. This presents challenges in arranging meetings - though teleconferencing helps. Should one hesitate to ask someone to serve on the Board if they live too far away? I don't want to limit our opportunities. The Board members who live at a distance are willing to host events for alumni in their area. Do you have any wisdom to share in this regard?

Carol Weisman:
    No problem living far away. I work with many national and international boards who meet in person only once a year and do well with teleconferencing. Just make sure that you do a lot of team building when you do get together at least once a year.

Question from Tara, small nonprofit:
    Any great ideas to transition the culture of a board which has not historically been fundraising oriented to a more fundraising orientation?

The Rev. Jerry Paul:
    First, I think it is important that the board be involved in making culture change a goal. It won't be a lot easier that way, necessarily, but it will be hard for people to follow unless they are clear where they are going. The board has to ultimately want to go to the same destination as you. You could start by having a facilitated session with your board about the culture you have and what changes in the culture would make your board stronger for the benefit of the organization, but also to their personal benefit. If you find they are not interested in changing to a fundraising culture, however defined, you will have a tough time. Since they are the board, I believe strongly that they are the place to start, rather than making a determination you want to go there without consulting them. Also, recognize that any culture change takes time and may require turnover on the board.

David Strom:
    With regarding distant bd members, another great tool is to use Instant Messaging software to allow people to do text chats in real time (similar to what you are reading here). It is a great way to build and maintain a team

Question from Gail Perry, author of Fired Up Fundraising :
    Hi Carol! Great suggestions here! What are the challenges you encounter in a board retreat to get folks enthusiastic about fundraising? and what works best in this situation?

Carol Weisman:
    The biggest problem with board retreats is getting folks to show up. They are planned sometimes 6 months in advance and everyone says they are going to come and then don't show. I've had great luck as a board president asking everyone for a check for a share of the retreat that will be returned when they show up. One board members gave a check for $100 and when her son had problems with his braces, she told her husband it would cost them $100 for her to skip the retreat and take their son. He went to the doc with the son and the wife donated the $100 at the retreat!

Question from Scott:
    In bringing on new board members, is it more effective to state at the outset the hope, or even expectation, of them to give (in effect, so they know what they're getting into), or to introduce and build up giving expectations gradually?

Gail S. Meltzer:
    Scott, oh my goodness, it is extremely important to be VERY clear that every board member is expected to make a financial contribution. Some organizations establish a minimum giving level, which may or may not be a good idea for reasons too long to go into here. Other organizations indicate not a specific amount but that the gift should be one of the board member's top two or three philanthropic gifts of the year. I recommend that board members be given a written job description during cultivation/recruitment, including this issue, so there is clarity about what board service entails right from the get-go.

Question from Earl, small unit at large university:
    We are currently working to develop a fund raising board for our organization, which has a 100 year history, but little fund raising. What strategies would you suggest using in the selection of our board?

The Rev. Jerry Paul:
    1. Clarify what kind of people (skills, interests, backgrounds) you are looking for. Also, clarify what you are wanting this "board" to do, why and what their pay-off would be. 2. Identify sources of such people and determine if you have any access to them. 3. Do a little market research relative to the board role that may be attractive to such people and what story or narrative you plan to use. 4. Carefully recruit the recruiters. Get lead people who will be attractive to the kind of people you are looking for. 5. Develop a plan that includes individuals you want to recruit and a strategy to get in front of them with your invitation.

Question from Jeannette Archer-Simons, CFRE, Consultant:
    What about the board member who is blocking the development effort by owning certain donors. No one else can contact them, but s/he doesn't follow through as they are her "friends"?

Carol Weisman:
    Slavery is over, as it turns out, and we can't own people. Ask others on the board or in the community to make the introduction. Explain to the board member that, "Lucy is also a friend of Lilly's and Lilly is arranging a luncheon. We know she is also a friend of yours. Would you like to join us as well?" You will also have to find another way for the controlling board member to feel powerful.

Question from Claudia Freed, public media:
    If your goal is to transition your board from a working board to a fundraising one, do you think it is best to have more or less committees?

Gail S. Meltzer:
    Claudia, the issue is more complex than whether to have committees. To transition the board from a "working board" (by this I assume you mean one that is hands-on in terms of operations) to a board that focuses more on policy, governance and raising friends and funds requires a thoughtful strategy that is very organization-specific and starts with determining exactly what kind of board you want and then laying out the action steps to get there. This journey can take a year or two. Committees may be one of many strategies you use to get there.

Comment from Enrica, Rutgers School of Engineering:
    Regarding the expectation that Board members give, we have taken a different approach: we ask only those who have given a major gift to serve and, when we ask them, we make it clear that the primary function of the Board is to help us raise funds for the SoE.

Question from Shelly, Hospice:
    Is it enough to have a "give or get" policy with a fundrasing board, in light of the fact that many funders are asking us to report the percentage of board member giving?...should we include the "get" in our reporting?

Carol Weisman:
    I would ask your funders directly what they want. The answers will be all over the place. Then keep track accordingly. There are sometimes regional or local differences in the culture of what they might feel is appropriate detail

Question from Amy Kincaid, ChangeMatters:
    I recently heard a board giving policy that I really liked: Give your gift, then work to raise 4x more. What's your generally-preferred approach to board giving policies? Give or get? Give and get? Name an amount?

The Rev. Jerry Paul:
    Without a doubt, I think the give and get is the best. I also don't believe it makes no difference how much they give. It needs to be fitting to their ability if they expect to get the same from others. If this is going to be the expectation, it will need to be included on the front end of your board recruitment method. Trustees need to come on the board knowing what they will be expected to do. I am not so enthusiastic about setting he dollar amount. It may cause you to miss opportunities and cut off future possibilities.

Question from Amy, small nonprofit:
    Building on the question of a non-fundraising culture of the board, what if this is also the culture of the staff and E.D.? As the development professional for 1 year and a half at the agency, I have transformed the position from a "community liaison" type of role to that of a development officer. This has met with lots of resistance as the board, staff, and E.D. were never asked to do the things I'm asking them. For instance, program staff are "unable" to give me the information I need to write grants (no outcomes, statement of need, etc.), the E.D. refuses to stand up at the annual fundraising event to address the audience or even table hop, and the board is resistant to making thank you calls as my predecessor never had them do this. Everyone thought the 1 development person would "do it all" without any help from them, and when I tell them we're all in this together, there's essentially no buy-in. Help!

Carol Weisman:
    You need to bring in an outsider to work with the board to help them realize that what you are asking is going to further the mission and is not "laziness" on your part. (I have actually heard this said!) Since you are a small nonprofit and might not be able to pay much or anything, find out if there is a volunteer from your United Way who could help. Or, if available to your cause, write a capacity building grant to do some board training.

Also, be careful of your speech. Do NOT ask people to help you fundraising. That would imply that it is all your job. Ask people to work with you and mention the mission specifically. It is always hard to change the culture of an organization and it will take some time.

Peter Panepento (Moderator):
    That was a fantastic discussion. Thank you to everyone who offered questions and comments during the past hour. And thank you to our four guests for sharing their expertise.

Peter Panepento (Moderator):
    We'll post a full transcript of this discussion at http://philanthropy.com/live and we'll be back again next Tuesday at noon Eastern time to discuss strategic philanthropy with William and Flora Hewlett Foundation President Paul Brest, the author of the new book "Money Well Spent". See you then.

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