When faced with the possibility of a capital campaign, many board members shrink back and get quiet.
Though they may not voice their concerns, these are some of the worries and questions that are often on their minds:
- Where’s all that money going to come from? Better not count on this board for most of it.
- I wonder how much money I’ll be expected to give.
- What’s my role in this campaign?
- Ask people for big gift? Not me! I don’t have lots of money and don’t know people who have lots of money. And what’s more, I don’t like asking people for money.
- I really don’t know how to talk about this project. I’m not even sure I fully understand the extent of the campaign.
These are common board concerns.
If you’re planning a campaign, you should give your board members the opportunity to not only voice their concerns, but also to find answers to their questions.
Don’t Wait — NOW’s the Time to Prepare Your Board
In reality, while board concerns about fundraising are heightened during a capital campaign, most board members resist fundraising even in normal, non-campaign times. But very few organizations are proactive in addressing board concerns about fundraising. And for the sake of your campaign’s success, this is something you shouldn’t put off.
I often hear executive directors or development directors say, “My board isn’t a fundraising board.” Or, “My board’s just a lost cause when it comes to fundraising.”
But when I ask what they’re doing to improve board skills or make their board more comfortable with fundraising, I seldom get a satisfactory answer.
Boards should work on developing the fundraising skills of their board members throughout the year. People aren’t born knowing how to raise money. In fact, most people grow up with negative messages about asking for what they want and in particular, they learn early that it’s not okay to ask for money!
So to assume that people are comfortable with and know how to raise money just because they’ve become board members is foolishness.
Develop a Training Plan for Your Board
Training your board about fundraising should start long before you plan a capital campaign. But if you don’t already have a training plan for your board, a capital campaign may well provide the incentive to start something important.
What might a training plan look like? Here are three things you can do.
1. Provide frequent learning opportunities at board meetings.
Schedule 20 to 30 minutes of most board meetings to increase members’ awareness and understanding of fundraising. You don’t need to hire a trainer. You can do it yourself.
The best training exercises are often very simple. They call on the wisdom of the group — posing a topic or challenge and then encouraging discussion to solve it. You might do something as benign as inviting a board member to share a fundraising success story at a board meeting.
2. Plan two or three longer meetings each year specifically for training.
If you’re board isn’t keen on incorporating training into every board meeting, consider scheduling a few longer meetings each year. Set up these meetings specifically to explore and develop the board’s comfort with fundraising.
You might work on a different topic at each meeting. For example, one meeting might focus on the board members’ role as ambassadors. Another might highlight making thank you calls. And so on.
3. Train your board at a special annual board retreat.
Consider making a regular practice of having an annual board retreat, a portion of which would be designated for training the board members in their fundraising roles. In a longer training like this, it’s a good idea to bring in an experienced fundraising trainer to work with your group.
Why is Training Your Board a No-Brainer?
Think about it this way. Board members don’t actually enjoy boring, report-laden meetings any more than you do.
They’d much prefer to be actively engaged in interesting discussion. Many of them would be happy to develop and try out new skills. And just about all of them will feel a good bit better about being a board member if they have the understanding and skills they need to do a good job.
Think about it. It truly is a no-brainer.
REDUCE YOUR BOARD’S FEAR OF A CAPITAL CAMPAIGN
You can help your board become comfortable with the idea of a capital campaign. We offer a special interactive 3+ hour workshop that’s custom-designed to get your board informed, committed and fired-up about your capital campaign.
- Help your board members fully understand and support your campaign goals and objectives
- Ensure that your board knows exactly what’s expected of them during the campaign
- Get your board informed, committed and excited about your campaign, even before you do a feasibility study
So if you’re getting ready for a capital campaign, consider a capital campaign board workshop for your board. Your board can make all the difference in the success of your campaign.