“What you do makes a difference, and you have to decide what kind of difference you want to make.”
– Jane Goodall
We do a lot of board presentations, and one of the first questions I ask a board is, “who likes to fundraise?” A hand or even two may go up, but rarely more than that. The reality is that very few board members want to do this work, yet so much time, money, and energy are spent on board training for fundraising.
Perhaps it is the wrong question. The better question is, “who wants to help further the mission of the organization?” There is very little hesitancy when this question is asked. The challenge is that most people don’t like asking other people for money for a lot of good reasons. In the past, I’ve written that our goal is to educate internal leadership on the nuances of asking for a gift. Board members, however, can be helpful in so many ways as they are the gateway (in most instances) to the community. If they see their roles as helping internal leadership be successful, then they will help in fundraising. Asking them to go out and ask their friends and community connections isn’t the best practice for long term success. It has become something that is expected of board members, but sometimes it takes more energy than going out yourself and making the ask.
The other day an Executive Director and I were having this same conversation over lunch. She told me she isn’t comfortable asking for money and was disappointed in her board. Sound familiar? I reminded her that it all depends on how you look at the job. First, someone has to wake up every day thinking about fundraising on your staff. Who is it on your team? Second, you must remember that you are not asking for yourself but for the people you serve. If you don’t go out and make the ask on behalf of those in need, then no one will. You are the bridge between those who can make an impact financially and those who genuinely need help. It’s not about you. Finally, there is joy in knowing that you can help make a difference. It takes courage to ask, and you can’t take the “no’s” personally.
Who are you fighting for this week?
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