If you’re anything like most development professionals I’ve talked to, you’ve probably been exasperated with your board because they aren’t as involved as you’d like with your fundraising. Sure, they’ll buy tickets to your event… with a bit of prodding. They’ll ask their friends for sponsorships or donations… if you remind them. They may even get in-kind donations for your next auction… with encouragement.
If you’ve ever been frustrated with your board because they don’t want to get involved with fundraising, you’re not alone. In fact, you’re in the majority!
Why fundraising for boards is such an obstacle
Your board members aren’t professional fundraisers. Prior to serving with your board, they may never have asked for a donation in their life! With the exception of helping their daughter sell Girl Scout Cookies or raising money for their kid’s softball team, they have no experience asking a friend or family member for financial support. Fundraising can be scary, especially if you’ve never done it before!
As nonprofits look for a way to put their fundraising-shy board members at ease, many are using peer-to-peer fundraising platforms to help them out. Here are some reasons you should consider giving your board members peer-to-peer fundraising tools.
Peer-to-peer fundraising is less nerve-wracking than face-to-face fundraising
Do you remember making your first in-person ask? It can be so intimidating!
You’re a professional fundraiser. A professional asker! But your board members aren’t, and asking is still very intimidating to them. Asking face-to-face is even scarier. We expect our board members to support fundraising efforts by reaching out to their friends and family for support, but that’s a big expectation!
Enter peer-to-peer fundraising.
Giving your board members the tools to make digital asks instead of face-to-face asks helps ease them into fundraising. Social media tools make it easy for them to share their personal fundraising pages on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and more, and it’s easy to send personalized email requests to their networks. You’ll still want to work with board members to get them ready to make larger, in-person asks… but this is a great stepping stone. Making successful digital asks will help them be confident enough to make them face-to-face later!
Board members are probably already familiar with (at least part of) the process
Board members aren’t familiar with what I call “fundraising speak.” Words and phrases like “in-kind donations,” “sponsorships,” “major gifts,” and “appeals” aren’t part of their daily lexicon. And scheduling lunches with friends to ask for financial support isn’t a familiar practice.
Peer-to-peer fundraising takes away some of those obstacles. They might not be familiar with attending major gifts meetings, but they are familiar with creating a Facebook post. Recruiting event sponsors isn’t part of their routine, but they are used to sending emails. Building a personal appeal isn’t something they usually do, but they are familiar with the concept of building a personal profile on a website.
Peer-to-peer tools take an unfamiliar practice (raising money) and puts it in a familiar context (social sharing, personal pages, and emails). Familiar tools can take away some of the anxiety your board members associate with fundraising!
It gets fundraisers personally invested in your nonprofit’s fundraising success
Let’s be honest: you’ve heavily invested in your nonprofit’s fundraising efforts. It’s your job. You’re in the trenches. You eat, sleep, and breathe fundraising.
The same is not true of your board. They’re invested in your mission, certainly, but fundraising is something they probably think about while they’re in the board room and then forget. That sounds harsh, but it’s not their fault! They have jobs, lives, and obligations of their own. Fundraising is not at the top of their list of priorities.
Building and sharing a personal fundraising page moves fundraising up their priority list. If they build a personal page that they share with their networks, everyone can see the amount they’ve raised and the amount they have left to raise. Everyone can see their picture and story associated with your organization. They’ve invested time into building their page and sharing it with their friends and family. If you’ve chosen to use gamification pieces like badges for top fundraiser, they may even find themselves competing against other board members. Fundraising becomes something fun, something they can control, and something they’ve spent time, effort and personal capital organizing. It’s not something that lives only during board meetings: it’s something they can do every day.
Peer-to-peer fundraising is a stepping stone to more hands-on fundraising
When you first started your career as a fundraiser, it probably took several successful appeals for you to build up confidence. That’s true for your board members, too!
After a few successful appeals, board members will start building up the confidence they need to make asks in other ways. Asking for a $200 gift is scary. Asking for a $200 gift when you’ve already gotten several $200 gifts is still scary, but less so. Inviting your friend to attend a fundraising event is less intimidating if they’ve already supported your online fundraiser. Requesting live auction items from a local business is less anxiety-inducing if the owner already knows you’re raising money for a particular cause.
It takes time to build up the confidence to get up close and personal with face-to-face asks, sponsorship requests, and other kinds of appeals. Building and sharing personal fundraising pages gives board members the fundraising experience that will give them the confidence they need to get more involved down the road.
Do you need to get your board members more involved in fundraising? Are you looking for ways to make fundraising easier for a reluctant fundraising board? Peer-to-peer fundraising might be a good solution for you! Giving board members the tools they need to raise money online will help eliminate much of the anxiety that surrounds fundraising and help them build the confidence they need to get involved other ways.
Looking for more ideas? Check out our recent webinar with Rachel Muir: Why Fundraising is the F-Word to Your Board & How to Fix It