As you get ready for a capital campaign, you’d better be sure that your board members know what’s coming down the pike.
You can’t assume that just because someone is a board member and has participated in all of the conversations about having a capital campaign she knows what’s going to be required.
Chances are better than fifty-fifty that most of your board members have only a vague notion of what will be expected of them in your capital campaign. And unless yours is a “fundraising board” selected specifically because of their ability to give and get large gifts, many of your board members may feel anxious about the campaign.
Think about it this way…
Board Members Without Money Might Feel Unimportant
If you’re a board member but you don’t have lots of money, you know you won’t be able to make a large gift to the campaign. And if you don’t have the capacity to make a big gift, chances are good that you don’t socialize with many people who have great wealth either.
So you know your gift won’t make much of a dent in the big capital campaign goal, and you won’t be able to open the doors to wealthy philanthropists either. You won’t be able to give OR get!
To make matters worse, even thinking about big gifts probably makes you uncomfortable.
How will you respond?
You’ll probably let the “money people” on your board do the campaign work.
But here’s the problem, if you don’t think you have a role to play, you may start to feel that you don’t matter — and even resentful.
That’s a common and understandable response. But it’s not a healthy response.
Every Board Member Has Important Roles to Play
While money is, of course, a primary focus of capital campaigns, every board member can and should be involved in the campaign. Here are some of the ways board members can help, even if they can’t make or bring in large gifts.
Make a personally significant gift.
While some or even many of your board members won’t be able to make large gifts, they can make gifts that are significant for them. For some board members, that might be $100. For others a personally significant gift may be many thousands.
Whatever their giving level, every board member should be asked for their gift in person, either by the board chair or the campaign chair. And every board member’s gift, no matter what the level, should be respected and appreciated.
While the total giving from your board may not represent a large percentage of your campaign, the commitment it represents when every board member makes a personally significant gift IS huge. When every board member gives, they send a powerful message to other donors and the community that the people who know the organization best are fully committed.
Spread the word and generate excitement.
Every board member can help spread excitement about the campaign. Excitement is contagious and all it takes are a few passionate people to start an epidemic.
Talk with each of your board members about how they can help get the word out about the project and the campaign. A specific conversation about that helps people think more clearly and strategically about what they might do.
Help with events.
Campaigns are full of events. Small gatherings, tours, dinner parties, open houses and many more create a steady drumbeat of opportunities to draw people in and engage them in the campaign.
These events are their most effective when board members are actively involved. They can help with planning, invitations, hosting, transportation, and follow up.
Thank donors as gifts come in.
The practice of thanking donors even early in a capital campaign is super important. It’s also a great way to involve board members. As gifts come in, board members can write notes or email or call donors to thank them for their help.
If you get board members to help with this early in your campaign, your major donors feel great about their giving and they’ll be likely to tell their friends about your campaign.
The Bottom Line: Every Board Member Matters
Don’t let the board members who can’t give large gifts feel disengaged and unimportant.
Early in your campaign planning, spend time with board members discussing ways they can help. Talk to them about the importance and meaning of making a personally significant gift and help them figure out the other ways they can help.Don’t let the board members who can’t give large gifts feel disengaged and unimportant. Click To Tweet