How to Raise Money Even When Your Board Won’t Help

Wouldn’t it be great if your board members were enthusiastic, passionate, and committed to fundraising for your organization?

While the organizations I work with see significant movement of board members toward this ideal, many organizations don’t take the time or resources to train board members properly.

If this is the reality at your organization, there were many sessions at 2012’s AFP Conference in Vancouver that featured tips and techniques to raise more money with or without help from your board members.

Raising Money without your Board

Below are five fundraising strategies you can use with or without your board members from the AFP conference in Vancouver.

1. Use Pictures to Tell Your Story

According to Scott Harrison of Charity Water, most nonprofit organizations don’t use enough pictures to tell their story. Harrison talked about how important it is to use images, pictures and video to tell your story and how it has helped Charity Water to grow exponentially in five short years.

Don’t simply talk about what you hope to do. Show people what you’re already doing and help them visualize how much more you could accomplish with their donations.

2. Create a Movement

Movements, as opposed to campaigns, can transform your cause, according to Jon Duschinsky of Bethechange. Movements are exciting, fun, and hopeful.

“Organizations achieve incremental change, and movements create monumental change,” according to Duschinsky. Your goal is to give people something they can be a part of. Once they are engaged, they will give.

3. Get Your Board Asking the Right Questions

Sometimes when your board won’t help, it’s really because they don’t know what to do. Fundraising expert Peter Drury from A Child’s Right talked about his “fundraising dashboard.” This fantastic tool helps development directors and board members ask the right questions with regard to their fundraising results.

Do you know the different between your average gift and your median gift?

The difference is significant. If you are interested in setting up your own fundraising dashboard, contact me.

4. Connect to Donors in a Meaningful Way

Using research as a basis for discussion, Bill Bartolini, ACFRE, of GW University, talked about the importance of being able to “read” prospects as well as understand their predispositions, in terms of what might motivate them to give and get involved with your organization.

When getting to know a donor, you can utilize stereotypes in productive, positive ways. For example, there are assumptions we can make based on a person’s age and background. Ask good questions to learn whether or not your assumptions are true when getting to know a prospective donor.

5. Don’t Wait for Board Members to Ask, Just Do It

While fundraising best practice tells us that board members should do the asking, there are times when board members can’t or won’t ask.

In my session called “Scared to Ask?” I talked about the, who, what, when, where, and why of making the ask. Participants learned that if there is no board member who is willing or able to ask, it’s far better for you to ask than to use your board members as an excuse not to ask. It’s important that the person asking is the individual with the closest relationship to the person being asked. In many cases, that’s you!

Relying on Yourself

In a perfect world, you’re able to recruit and retain great board members. But in an imperfect world like ours, sometimes you’ll just have to raise money without them. It’s times like those that these 5 strategies will be invaluable.

Do you have other ways you’ve been successful without your board members? Perhaps you received other helpful tips from the conference in Vancouver. Share your thoughts in the comments.


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