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How To Help Your Board Members Overcome Their Resistance To Fundraising And Turn Them Into Effective Fundraisers

Posted: 11/15/2021

Click here to read on Bloomerang.

By Claire Axelrad

Are your board members resistant to fundraising? Do you have a difficult time motivating them to participate in this essential activity—one that helps your nonprofit carry out its mission?

One way to help your board members get over that resistance and discover the joy of fundraising is to show them that fundraising is really about telling and hearing stories, not asking for money.

However, before you can inspire them to become effective fundraisers, you must first take responsibility for their resistance.

Did you prepare your board members for their fundraising role or were they brought onto the board with the reassurance they wouldn't have to help raise money? If they weren't prepared, that resistance is valid and something you're responsible for combatting.

Furthermore, if they don't want to fundraise because they see that it's something that you have trouble with, it'll be even more difficult to motivate them!

Figure out how you feel about fundraising and use that information to help your board members get over their resistance to it.

If you're ambivalent about the board's role in raising money for your nonprofit, they will be too. If you're afraid of fundraising, they will be too.

So ask yourself: What role do you want the board members to play in raising funds? How do you feel about fundraising and are your feelings turning the board members off of fundraising?

You can't help your board members overcome their fears until you overcome yours. To get them excited about fundraising, you have to overcome your fear, find your passion, and share that passion with your board.

Ease your board members into fundraising.

Most people fear the "F" word: fundraising. It can cause even the most capable board and staff members to panic or start sweating when they hear it.

If you're working with board members who haven't been involved in fundraising in the past or with members who've done some fundraising previously but didn't enjoy it, the best way to ease them into it is to do just that: Ease them into it.

Don't just tell them what they should do. Teach them how to do it. It's your job to take your board members by the hand and show them how fulfilling and easy it can be to reach out and ask people to support your mission.

Change the way you talk about fundraising.

Don't talk about fundraising as a necessary evil. Instead, focus on how it changes lives. Your goal should be to move folks from thinking of asking for funds as a necessary evil (something that feels coercive) to thinking of it as a way to change lives and repair the world (something that feels permissive).

Fundraising is not an end in itself; it's how you meet the goal. Think about fundraising as offering people an opportunity to satisfy their own desire to enact their values and do good in the world. If you and your board members don't fundraise, you deny people the opportunity for joy and meaning.

Tell your board members how storytelling can help make fundraising easier.

Your board members may think that fundraising involves memorizing a lot of facts and figures. Understandably, this might scare them. Drilling down into numbers is hard, and there's potential for error. And who wants to look or feel stupid?

That's why you should show them how to fundraise through storytelling. Humans love to tell and listen to stories. It's the perfect way to communicate your nonprofit's impact and how the donor can help you achieve your goals.

What stories can they tell?

Here are three ways that board members can use storytelling to carry out their fundraising duties:

  • Tell their personal story.
  • Tell the organization's story.
  • Ask the donor to share their own story.

When it comes to sharing their personal story, simply ask board members why they became involved with your nonprofit and why they've stayed involved. This connects folks to their passion, which will make it easier for them to share the story. Once you know the answers, help the board members prepare their stories in a way that creates an emotional appeal and a sense of urgency that will encourage donors to give.

Sharing your organization's story is even easier. You've got dozens of stories. You exist because of stories—stories of problems that your nonprofit is working to solve. Tell the stories of those you're helping, how you're helping them, and what role the donor can play in this work. Remember: The key is to make the donor feel empowered and know that their contribution is crucial to solving the problem at hand.

Tip: Keep in mind that different stories resonate with different people so collect a variety of them. Also, it's important to recognize that your board members might not have the same fundraising roles.

The good news about talking to a donor about their story is that most people love to talk about themselves. Listen carefully to the donor's values and consider how their values match your organization's values. Then tell them a story that shows how their values match yours.

To understand their values, ask the donor questions like:

  • What drew you to this cause?
  • What keeps you up at night?
  • What legacy would you like to leave behind?
  • When you hear about the problem we're working to solve, how does this make you feel?

Believe it or not, people's attitudes about fundraising can completely change based on how you frame the task and how you approach the ask.

Again, it's not about asking for money. It's about building and sustaining relationships in order to change the world. Once you present fundraising to your board members in this manner, you're one step closer to getting them excited about raising money for your nonprofit.

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