The board, first and foremost, above everything else has to really own the vision, mission, and values of the leader, and affirm and support the articulation and implementation of the strategy.
Development is the business of relationship building. Face-to-face, small group, and large gathering strategies are the facilitators.
Boards get their organizations in trouble when they put those in the wrong priority order. They want to do the big event. They want to do the direct mail. They want to do the email stuff and the internet stuff, and then they wonder why the engine is not running.
Face-to-face is the highest return on investment and the lowest cost relative to giving. Small groups are nearly as effective, but are a little bit more expensive. Large groups are very expensive, and have very low return on investment.
Once we have priorities straight, it’s time to look at ways your board can increase their reach to ultimately boost your ministry’s impact.
Storytellers and Connectors
What is your vision? How did you get ‘here’? What is the strategy? What are you asking donors to do?
These are deceptively simple questions donors will ask.
A key role of the board, the point at which they’re most effective, is when they view themselves as storytellers and connectors introducing people to the vision and story of the message for your ministry.
Use the Noah method. Go out two by two.
Jesus sent his disciples out in twos. This can be extremely effective in this context because it helps the giver, the board member, and the leader to be who they are.
The currency you’re after as an organization isn’t money, but influence.
It takes influence to actually ask someone to do something significant with their giving and their time.
You’re growing the board, committees, and non-board roles that do help you expand your influence. Each board member comes with their own spheres of influence. This is an important fact to remember and use wisely.
Thankers and Reporters
From an individual donor perspective, you’re always moving individual donors through a journey, a cycle, and the cycle can take place over a year or 18 months … but you’re always cycling.
The cycle doesn’t start with asking, but with thanking.
Even before they’re a donor, you can say, “Thank you for paying attention, thank you for being interested, thank you for being excited, thank you for coming to breakfast with me, thank you for taking the time to learn about what we’re doing.”
Oftentimes we have this expectation that if we just ask more and more and more, we will raise more and more money, or if we just ask people for more, they’ll give more. The reality is, people give more when they’re well thanked and informed on the impact their giving has.
Let your board communicate gratitude. It will mean a lot to givers to be thanked by someone other than the leader.
Thanking wouldn’t be complete without reporting.
Donors want to know how their money is being used and the impact it’s having. Tell them!
Asking can sometimes get people started giving at some level, but it’s the cycle of thanking and reporting – this journey – that moves them forward.
We ask boards once a year to pick up the phone and call donors. Say, “Hi, my name’s John. I am on the board of So and So, and I wanted to make sure you heard from me personally saying thank you for your giving. In fact I’d like to give you a little bit of a report from a board perspective.”
This is transformational!
Other people are too busy sending out their next email to actually take the time to do that with their donors. When it’s a board member, it’s profound.
Know this: it’s normal to have a moment’s pause, to question if you’re potentially stepping into uncharted territory in asking someone in your sphere of influence to get involved and give to your ministry.
Asking is challenging, it makes you vulnerable.
So does sharing the Gospel of Christ.
Get real with your board to encourage and bring about real change. I can’t wait to hear what moves you and how this propels your ministries forward. I’m in your corner. Always.
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