Year-end giving is on all fundraisers’ minds right now—we all want to have the best returns possible.
Last week, we described what’s ahead for year-end giving in 2022; you can read about that here.
Over the next few weeks, I’ll examine various aspects of year-end giving, including the Thanksgiving Thank-A-Thon, year-end appeal letters, and the crucial last four days of the year. Stay tuned.
Today, let’s look at some tips for inviting your board to play a leadership role in your year-end drive.
It’s our job as fundraisers to make it easy for board members to participate in fundraising, especially at year-end, the most lucrative time of the year. That’s why it’s prudent to share your year-end giving plan with them and invite them to participate in the following ways:
1. Secure the board member’s own personal gift.
First, take action to secure a year-end gift from each board member, ideally at an in-person meeting. If in-person is not possible, a video call can be just as good. Go here for six tips for video solicitations. Your goal is to secure a gift of significance, possibly a transformational gift. However, depending on the board member’s capacity to give and recent past history of giving, you might decide that a nominal gift is fine and that 100% giving by all board members is the more important goal to achieve.
2. Solicit the board member’s network.
Second, ask select board members to secure a meeting with those in their network who are current donors and have the capacity to give, perhaps significantly. A group Zoom call may work.
Caution: fundraising is a team sport. We recommend bringing two people to a cultivation or solicitation—one person, the trained fundraiser, who is focused on the donor, and the second person to speak to the nonprofit’s mission and vision. Do not lose control of soliciting the network to the board member! He or she may be terrific, but a trained fundraiser is always required. I’ve watched many talented board members tank at soliciting their contact because they went solo. Avoid that problem.
How do you know if the board member’s contacts have the capacity to give? You have to do prospect research to be sure. Some donors may appear wealthy, but that doesn’t mean they have the available cash to make a charitable donation or a gift at a high level. I have a free white paper available which explains prospect research in great detail, which you can read here.
3. Craft a board Challenge.
Third, ask the board to make a challenge gift out of their collective and combined personal donations. Challenges work. Donors like it when their gifts are matched, thereby having a greater impact. It’s particularly impressive when a board comes together to sponsor their own challenge, because that shows leadership and commitment. If you’re new to challenge drives, my previous blog post on the subject may be of interest to you. In it, I discuss three key steps to creating a challenge.
For best results, the challenge should be shared with a select group of donors who are likely to know the board members, or who have the proven capacity to give.
4. Celebrate the success, or at least evaluate.
Fundraisers are notorious for moving on to the next thing and not stopping to celebrate a success or evaluate the process. Be sure to let the board members and all the donors know what happened. Did we meet the challenge? How much did we raise? What will the funds be used for? I like to make short videos to report back, and they’re well received.
Your celebration should make the board members feel good about having stepped up. We could not have done this without you! You can also share what you learned from the process and would do differently next time.
Don’t forget good donor hygiene and make sure all the celebration notes are recorded in your donor database. Ideally this should be done as you go along.
What’s your experience of engaging your board in year-end fundraising? What has worked? Please share below. Also, please forward this post to a colleague who may appreciate it.