Understanding Your Board
Your Board members are serving on your Board currently for likely one or more of the following reasons:
They founded (or were one of the founders) of your organization
They were invited by your CEO/another Board member to join
They financially invested in your organization and thereby have "a seat & a say" (or they are a representative from a major financial supporter - ex: company sponsor)
They have valuable connections/contacts that will benefit your organization's growth
They believe in your mission and asked to contribute their time/talent/treasure via a Board position
They want to improve their professional profiles
They haven't been asked to leave
Assessing Your Board
Are your Board members engaged or disengaged? Boards who are actively involved (they support you with their resources) can be excellent advocates for your recurring giving initiative.
Do they show up for meetings?
Do they ever ask questions or contribute to the conversations taking place?
Do they give with/without being asked?
Do they attend your annual events?
Do they volunteer with you?
Do they refer others to your organization?
Do they support your fundraising efforts & bring other potential donors to the table?
If you have an active, engaged Board, give your CEO a high-five and your Board members a hug! But what happens when they are NOT engaged?
Engaging Your Board
How do you engage inactive Board members?
Start at the top - Your President/CEO should not only buy in to your recurring giving priority but should also champion this new/renewed initiative to your Board in Board meetings. Your Board Chair should also be the first person signed up for your monthly giving/Round-Up program. Ensure these two persons fully understand the importance & details of your new initiative so they can champion this to the others.
Know what you're asking for - Before you ask your Board members to give, be sure to know the details of what you want from them (ex: Round-Ups ONLY or Monthly Giving ONLY or both?) and when (ex: our goal is to get 75% Board participation by the end of this month).
Make it easy - In the same way you want to make it easy for your donors to give, you should remove every barrier for your Board members to give. Don't make them jump through hoops (ex: after the meeting, go to the Website, click through to the 3rd page to click the Round-Ups button - NO!). Include the link to Round-Up/your Harness giving page in your electronic itinerary/meeting agenda or have your keyword (linking to your giving button) already up on the presentation screen.
Be strategic - If you already have in place multiple demands on your Board (ex: they MUST attend 10 out of 12 meetings annually, they MUST give at least $10,000 annually, they MUST attend 6 out of 8 of our events, etc.), be strategic with how and when you present this new ask. "Ask fatigue" is just as real for your Board members as it is for your donors. You don't want them to approach this new ask as "one more thing".
Expect resistance, questions & feedback - As a general rule, people don't like change, so expect some natural resistance and questions from your Board members before they agree to commit/sign up. Be prepared for their questions by knowing the platform and what you're asking from them (point #2) and graciously receive their feedback.
Show them the value - Your Board cares (or should) about the LONG-TERM financial health and stability of your organization. To ensure this, one of your top priorities should be your recurring giving efforts (and the exceptional stewardship that is directly tied to recurring givers' experiences). Communicate that this is a NEW, EASY, FUN way to make an impact without having to make any grand gestures. Show them via your own data how quickly a little change adds up to big results (ex: “If only X many of us sign up, we will not only gain back the investment we made in this technology but will exceed it in X few months! If only X donors sign up, we estimate raising an additional $X,XXX each month with next to NO effort on our part!) Explain to them how this is a great way to engage NEW donors (easy, lower entry point of support), CURRENT supporters that aren’t $ donors (here’s looking at you, Volunteers!), and your BEST donors/partners (by giving them a way to extend their giving, further establishing their roots in your mission – the goal!).
Offer an incentive - While we would hope all your Board members are serving for purely altruistic purposes, we understand that some may need a little "push" to get started. You can offer each member who signs up to become a Round-Up/monthly giver to conduct an exclusive interview with them you will share with the public (social media, e-newsletter, etc.) putting them on display (that they are a Board member and they have done a good deed) asking questions like, "Who are you? Why are you a Board member? Why did you sign up to become a monthly giver? Why would you encourage others to sign up too?" BONUS! By doing this, you're not only giving your Board member a shout-out, but also subtly encouraging your donors to sign up as well.
Get excited! If YOU'RE not excited, they won't be excited.
Dear [Board member],
We are so thankful to have your leadership and support here at [your organization's name]. We know you are committed to the [clients] we serve and appreciate your support at our past [event, etc.].
We wanted you to be the first to know about a NEW giving initiative we are launching [ called THIS] to engage [new, stagnant, younger, etc] donors that we believe will not only help us reach [xyz goal we've set in our strategic plan], but will support our organization's long-term financial health and stability, in addition to engaging new donors and re-engaging lapsed donors.
What's unique about this program is it offers our donors [xyz they've never had as an option before] and adds value to them in [this way] and to us in [this way].
We plan to launch this to the public/our donors on [date/time/event]. As we would like this to be a powerful, positive, and engaging experience for our donors, we would really appreciate you signing up for this new experience by [this date] and providing us feedback about your experience.
Learn more and get started by clicking [Harness fundraising link].
If you have any questions or need any support, please contact [staff member who is spearheading this initiative] at [phone # and/or email].
Thank you, again, for all you do!
Need More Resources?
Download an overview of Harness highlighting Harness's features
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