Check-Up Clinic: Board Engagement
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How Your Board Can Help Sustain Your Fundraising Operations
by Jeb Banner
In today's uncertain times, you may be wondering how to keep your fundraising operations going. The thought of asking for more support right now could seem overwhelming. And while your board exists to help your organization through tough times, you might be worried about asking more from them.
But nonprofits need funding to provide the goods and services people rely upon — now more than ever. Your board members know this and will be willing to help. You'll need to point them in the right direction and give them support to best activate them for fundraising.
Refocus Board Members on Core Mission
With so much in flux, you might feel the temptation to delay action. Resist it. Your donors and the people using your services are counting on you to take action, even when things are uncertain. And your core mission is what should guide your next action.
This is where your board can help. A refresher about your core mission can remind board members why they signed on to help your organization. Plus, it can reinvigorate stalled-out fundraising operations and inspire new ideas. Lean into your organizational values to guide these conversations and to decide on your next steps.
You might already require your board members to give as part of their commitment. Whether you currently ask for a gift of treasure or not, you should now revisit your board members and ask. Inspired by your core mission, they will do what they can to help.
Overcommunicate With Board Members
Once you've aligned your board members to your mission, keep talking to them. Deploy multiple communication channels — calls, emails, video conferencing — however they want to stay connected. Regularly update your board on your organization's needs and where you need the most help.
Online-based solutions like Slack or Microsoft Teams can help you gather your board members virtually. Be sure to prepare documents ahead of time and follow good remote board meeting etiquette. Specialized board engagement software can help you guide virtual meetings and host and store financial information and fundraising plans. Board members can access and engage with that information and coordinate their assistance.
Be honest about your financial position; this is no time to sugarcoat your numbers. Tell your board about your most urgent need, and ask for their advice. Do you have unnecessary expenses you can cut back? Are there previously missed opportunities to generate revenue? While your board can assist with direct fundraising, they can also direct you down other financial avenues.
Incorporate Board Members into Donor Appreciation
How have you shown authentic donor appreciation in the past? If you haven't asked your board members to help thank your donors before, start now. Recruit your board members to get on the phone or send emails thanking your donors. With the flood of messages going out right now, it may seem strange to add your messages to donors' inboxes and voicemails. But to keep your fundraising operations running, your donors should be borderline tired of hearing from you.