Who’s job is it to raise capital campaign funds?
It’s everyone’s job to support the capital campaign – both board AND staff. And there are many ways to support the campaign that don’t even involve soliciting funds.
When it comes to your board, you can count on this: Board members are almost always afraid of fundraising.
That’s because many board members don’t understand major gift fundraising.
They think it’s all about “asking” rather than building a long term relationship.
You can almost bet that they will throw the fundraising monkey on YOUR back if they possibly can.
This is an uncomfortable – and perhaps untenable – spot for a staff fundraiser.
Here are some strategies to help get the fundraising monkey on EVERYBODY’S back, not just yours.
Help board members understand the many roles they can play to support the campaign.
You know that there are many, many fundraising activities in a capital campaign. And most of these do NOT involve asking for money.
Here are some of the roles board members can play in the campaign:
- Help identify prospects.
- Figure out how to get the door open to major prospects.
- Make introductions for you.
- Have “listening” conversations with prospects to find out their hot buttons.
- Host small socials and cultivation events.
- Make thank you visits to donor prospects.
- Engage prospects before the ask.
Help board members understand capital campaign strategy – and the donor pyramid.
About 20 gifts from 20 wonderful people will account for most of the money raised in your campaign.
So you guys are only focusing on 20 top gifts. Those gifts will come from about 60 prospects. (Remember you want three prospects for every gift you need to close.)
Once board members understand that the campaign is focusing on just a few people for deep cultivation, then they are often more willing to get involved in relationship development efforts.
Stage a training session about how major gift fundraising really works.
Board members typically ARE interested in “education.” They like learning new things. And they want the skills and information they need to be successful.
But your training format is key. Giving them a PowerPoint presentation WON’T WORK. Instead, you have to ENGAGE them in discussions so that they have to incorporate the knowledge into their own experience.
Otherwise they will just sit passively letting you do all the talking – and then they’ll sit back and let you do all the work in the campaign.
Engage them in real discussions. You’ll get into your board members’ heads and open them up to new ideas.
Ask board members: “What is the board’s role in this capital campaign?”
When confronted with this question, it is hard for a board member to evade responsibility.
Break them into small groups and ask each group to come up with 5 different activities that board members can do to support the campaign.
You’ll be surprised! (And pleased.)
Change your language and start using words that imply “team.”
Stop using the words “I” and “you” and start using the words “we.”
Many staffers talk to the board members in these terms: “I need you to do this and this…”
Or, “I can’t do all this by myself.”
Instead, start saying, “We need to do this.” And, “How are WE doing to get this done?”
Get a knowledgeable and supportive board member or two on your side.
It’s hard for you to rally the board members to the capital campaign cause, because you work for them. You are automatically “one-down” from the board.
But other board members are peers. They can speak as equals to the other board members. They can rally the troops in a way that you can’t.
So “hide behind” a board member or two – and let them speak to and encourage the group.
Engage your Capital Campaign Steering Committee to put heat on your board.
Many fundraising staffers work mostly with a campaign steering committee instead of the board.
Why? Because board members are not typically recruited for their fundraising skills.
Your Campaign Steering Committee should be made up of people who are ONLY enlisted because of their personal networks and their ability to raise money.
Don’t spend a lot of time banging your head against the wall with board members who don’t understand this type of fundraising! Enlist a great Campaign Steering Committee and off you go on the road to a successful campaign.
Be practical and conserve your energy. 🙂
It’s up to you to educate, train, motivate and inspire your board members to actively support the campaign. And you CAN do it!
But if you’d like us to help, check out our Campaign Readiness Workshops. We’d be happy to do a workshop with your board to help them get ready for a successful campaign.