We see you over there putting together your year-end fundraising campaign. But we’ve got a question for you, fundraiser. Are you trying to pull off this entire campaign without extra support? We know what you’re thinking. “I’m a team of one; I don’t have the budget for consultants or freelancers!” Well, good news has arrived: You’ve got an entire support team in the wings—your board members.
Fundraising is an essential responsibility for every nonprofit board, and year-end fundraising is an excellent opportunity to put your board members to work.
Now, maybe you’re over there rolling your eyes. “My board members will NEVER fundraise,” you say. We hear you—getting board members involved with fundraising isn’t always a cakewalk. But it is possible, and today we want to give you a roadmap to make it happen.
Why Every Board Member Should Get Involved with Year-End Fundraising
In case your board members aren’t bought into this idea, we thought we’d arm you with some top-notch reasons they should all be involved in year-end fundraising.
- Fiduciary responsibility—Whoa, that’s a mouth full. But it is one of the essential duties of every nonprofit board. It entails financial oversight and ensuring that the organization is financially sustainable, aka, it has the money to keep doing awesome work. Fundraising falls under this umbrella.
- December is your biggest fundraising opportunity—Industry research shows that 31% of all annual giving happens during December. That’s a whole lotta moola, so it’s an all-hands-on-deck situation. The more support and people-power your organization can put into year-end fundraising, the better off it will be.
- Giving is an awesome experience for donors—Having to ask for money will undoubtedly be a reason why some of your board members are reluctant to jump on the fundraising train. One of our fave activities is to ask board members to think about a time they donated money. How did it feel? Did they enjoy supporting a cause they cared about? Chances are they did. Reminding them that people enjoy giving and many want to give in December is an excellent way to take the ick factor out of fundraising.
Set board member fundraising expectations now
One of the biggest obstacles to getting board members involved in fundraising is often getting everyone on the same page regarding expectations. If your board hasn’t been fundraising, this can feel like pushing an elephant up a hill, especially if you spring fundraising on them out of nowhere. If you have the time, it’s best to slowly make the shift in small steps. (If you don’t have the time, we say go for it anyway!)
With year-end fundraising, start having board-level conversations a few months prior to December about what the campaign plan is and how board members can support it. Be crystal clear about what’s expected of board members ASAP.
Easy Ways Board Members Can Support Year-End Fundraising
Alright, let’s get down to brass tacks. You want your board members to get involved in year-end fundraising. We’ve got a list of easy ways they can support the campaign. Think of this as a menu of options. They don’t need to do everything, but doing a few activities from this list can make a difference.
Make a personal gift
A great starting place for board member involvement is asking board members to make a personal gift. It’s the end of the year, and some board members may not have made their annual gift. Asking them to make a personally meaningful gift during December is a way for them to show their support and leadership for your organization’s fundraising program. Note: we said “personally meaningful gift.” Translated, this is great, low-pressure language for asking board members for a gift that respects each board members’ financial situation. It gives board members the agency to decide on an amount that works for their budget and their philanthropic goals.
Share their giving story
Social proof is a powerful tool for fundraising; it’s when you share stories from donors about why they gave to your organization. These kinds of stories perfectly articulate the values that drive giving so other potential donors see their own values in action. That’s why this type of story is perfect for your board members to share. They can share their story through their personal social media channels, or they can work with your organization to share their story in a bigger, impactful way (or they can do both!).
Start their own P2P campaign
Want to challenge your board members to next level fundraising? Have them start their own peer-to-peer campaign. Board members can easily set up a fundraising page, set a personal goal, and start reaching out to their network for support.
P.S. Funraise has a suite of super easy-to-use, nonprofit-specific peer-to-peer fundraising tools your board members will love.
Forward an appeal to 5 friends or family
Your organization is sending out email appeals in December, right? One way you can tap into your board members’ networks is to ask board members to forward an email appeal to 5 of their contacts. Ask them to include a personal note at the top of the email to personalize the email for their family and friends.
Add personal notes to VIP donor appeal letters
Some organizations like to add an extra personal touch to their appeal letters, often adding a handwritten note to the letters for VIP donors. This is an easy activity board members can participate in, especially if they know some of the donors personally. It doesn’t have to be a lengthy note; a few sentences will go a long way to personalizing it.
Share your organization’s social media posts
We know you’re out there on social hustling year-round, but December can be next-level for your social accounts. To amplify your best performing posts, reach out to your social butterfly board members, asking them to share those posts on their personal accounts.
Write thank-you notes
Donations are rolling in in December, and that means there’s no shortage of stewardship. Stewardship is a straightforward way for board members to support your year-end fundraising campaign and connect with donors in a fun way. A personal handwritten note is a super stewardship touchpoint that board members can support. They can write a short note at the bottom of standard thank you letters, or they can write a fully handwritten note on a festive card.
Make thank-you phone calls
Ready for more stewardship? Making thank you phone calls is an easy activity for board members. It’s also a delightful way to connect with donors during the holiday season and add a dash of cheer to their giving experience. Ask board members to come by your office for an hour after work, provide them with a script and call list, and give them a phone. Go, go, go!
Ask their company for a matching gift
Some of your board members might work in the corporate sector and, depending on the size of their company, their employer may be a candidate for a matching gift. If your organization is interested in getting a corporate matching gift for your year-end campaign, you’ll need to start the conversation with prospects in October or early November. Start by identifying board members and their employers who might be good prospects. Then reach out to board members individually to talk to them about the opportunity and start the conversation.
Make follow up phone calls after appeals have gone out
We all know fundraising success is in the follow-up. One thing your organization can do to increase response rates from direct mail is to make follow up phone calls to donors who have not yet made a gift. Some of your board members might feel comfortable enough on the phone to support this activity. Bonus! If you have a sales pro on your board, they’ll be great at this.
Accompany staff on personal donor visits
If you’re making year-end visits to VIP donors in November and December, consider inviting board members along. If board members haven’t supported major gifts work before, this can be a baby step to engaging them in this work because they’ll have the benefit of going on the visit with a fundraising pro (AKA you!) You will want to do some prep work with board members prior to the meeting, providing them with background information on the donor as well as the goals for the meeting.
There are lots of ways your board members can get involved in year-end fundraising. Be a matchmaker to pair board members’ strengths with activities they could do during December. If this is your board members’ first time supporting fundraising, select easy, low-pressure activities that’ll show board members that fundraising really can be fun. Plus, having these extra hands on deck will make a huge difference for your campaign, and your board members will be proud they contributed.