Congratulations!  You got the job!  And maybe your board doesn’t have experience with fundraising.  Or maybe they have some……chances are your board won’t have it all completely dialed in, so let’s do a reality check.

Here are 5 facts you should know:

  1. Very few (probably none) of your board members are going to jump out of bed each morning shouting, “Oh boy, I hope I get to fundraise today!!”  Odds are they might even hide from you when the time approaches.  Don’t take it personally.
  2. Your board members firmly believe in your mission.  And they are afraid of rejection.  Or of not doing it “right.”  And they don’t think they know anyone who can give.  Don’t worry, there are remedies for this.
  3. Fundraising isn’t about money.   Why do you have that shocked look on your face?  It’s about people and your organization’s impact in the community – always has been, and always will be.  As soon as your team is on board with that, you will have taken a giant step forward.
  4. The most important step happens after you receive a gift.  You must plan for this before you ever ask.
  5. A meaningful mission plus a powerful message will typically result in money.  Don’t underestimate the power of a strong case for support.

So What Does this Mean For You?

  • Educate, train, and support your volunteers.  They want to do a great job of leading the organization, and they likely understand that philanthropy is part of it.  But they need a roadmap – they need to be reminded they are responsible for funding the mission they are so passionate about.  They won’t get it the first time, so plan on repeating yourself, saying it different ways, saying it in formal and informal discussions.    Show them how other organizations are doing it successfully (be resourceful!).  Ask them what they need to feel confident and be successful, and then deliver it.
  • Everyone I have ever met knows people who give to charitable organizations – in fact, some reports state that 70% of us donate.  Those are pretty good odds.  Brainstorm with your board members, asking them to think of categories of people they know – from their poker buddies to their alumni groups to their neighbors and LinkedIn contacts.  Even if they aren’t initially comfortable making the ask, help them get some people connected to the organization in other ways.
  • Repeat after me – relationships are everything.  You must connect people to your cause before you can earn the right to ask them to invest.  Be deliberate about how you plan for that.  And once they have donated, how will you thank and recognize them?  You are obligated to share how their money has changed the community, also.  Be able to speak to impact and outline how they can get more involved.  Stay connected year-round.
  • Why is your organization important to the community?  What problem is it solving and what differentiates it? Measurement is a buzz word now – how do you measure the results of your work?  How are funds being used? All these questions speak to the strength of your case.  When you connect donors to the mission, and share a personal story, you will have greater success.

And guess what – you won’t be a rookie forever!  I would also recommend finding an experienced peer and asking them to mentor or coach you.

Stay positive and believe.  I think you will be wildly successful!