How to get your board involved with fundraising? I regularly conduct fundraising workshops for Catholic charities. One subject people often asked about is regarding who does what when raising money. In particular, Catholics are interested in how to involve their board, colleagues, and, most importantly, their armies of volunteers.
These are important questions because you cannot fundraise alone. If you leave the fundraiser (development director, etc.) in a corner to do everything by herself, your Catholic organization has dramatically fewer opportunities to raise funds. This is true about your current and long-term situations.
You cannot fundraise alone. This is why dioceses and large charities spend thousands, if not millions, on external fundraising firms. They know that they require help to move their objectives forward. You, however, don’t need to spend massive amounts of money to get the same help.
I will outline in precise detail who does what right here.
Here are my five recommended first steps to get people involved with fundraising.
Step 1 – Plant seeds before asking for money
Fundraising is about planting seeds, watering them, and allowing them to grow over time. One of my favorite verses in the New Testament to reference when talking about fundraising is 1 Corinthians 3:6, “I planted, Apollos watered, but God caused the growth.”
With this phrase, Saint Paul provides us the foundational block for taking our first step with fundraising.
Just imagine the enormous task God placed before him. He understood that to be successful, he first had to plant seeds: initial conversations with people about his work. Then, he gathered a group of helpers to develop those conversations into relationships. Third, Paul and his colleagues let God do the rest.
Fast forward 2,000 years, and we know the results of Paul’s approach. Therefore, I recommend you take the same path.
Also, your first conversations with people don’t have to be about donating. That is likely too much of a hurdle for most people. Start small by sharing with them your vision. In the same chapter, Paul writes, “I fed you milk, not solid food because you were unable to take it.” – 1 Corinthians 3:2
Last, make sure you have a team of helpers that help build those initial conversations into meaningful relationships. This means not asking your helpers to raise money. Focus instead on the person: who are they? What inspires them? How do they want to get involved?
You can learn more about planting seeds in this blog: How planting seeds increases donors ten fold
Step 2 – Get the right people, not lots of people, to help you
You don’t need a lot of people helping you either. Just a core group of volunteers help you build relationships each day will do wonders. It’s not a numbers game. There is not a direct connection in how many people help you to how much money you raise.
Often, more people helping you fundraise will have the opposite effect. It becomes more management than you initially wanted it to be. You will likely be more stressed from constantly checking who has done what or not done.
Also, when too many people are involved, people start assuming that if they don’t finish their tasks, someone else will fill in. Therefore, having an army of people (or volunteers) involved in fundraising won’t help you reach your target. Better to have a few committed people working closely together with you.
Step 3 – Avoid recruiting people who live ‘busy’ lives
I recommend that you be selective with who helps you. Rather than sending a blanket request and accept anyone who responds, I find a selective approach to be more beneficial. Why? Some people assume that, because they are a volunteer, they won’t have to do much (or not even follow through).
It’s just the unfortunate circumstance of our modern age. People are busy. I dislike this word. When someone uses this word, I think it means that they are overstretching their responsibilities rather than admitting they don’t have as much time as they thought. They don’t focus their time and energy. As a result, they burn themselves out along with them people around them.
And, when it comes to charitable work, many people see volunteering as something done on the side. It’s an add-on to all their other activities (particularly family and work). Therefore, if they are living busy lives, when that moment comes where they hit a wall and cannot juggle all the responsibilities, volunteering tends to be one of the first activities to be cut. This means you and your Catholic organization.
Therefore, I suggest you keep an eye out for people who are diligent and consistently willing to complete tasks. This is especially true when it comes time to recruit new board members. You don’t have to ask for people’s resumes and interview them. Instead, you learn who will be a good fit just by getting to know them. If they stay committed to finishing tasks, it’s a good sign they will be a great board member.
You can read more about board involvement in this blog post: 3 Qualities Leaders Must Have to Boost Fundraising
Step 4 – Define specific tasks for specific people
I also recommend you designate roles and responsibilities. This means certain people do certain tasks. This also means certain people do not do certain tasks.
I have found that everyone has specific talents, as the parable reminds us. (Matthew 25:14–30) It’s our responsibility as fundraisers to assign tasks to people who have the talents to complete them. Some people are better at asking for donations, while others are better at spreading the word (planting seeds).
Check out this boast on overcoming your fear of asking for donations: How to Embrace Your Fears When Fundraising
Step 5 – Keep a list of key roles and responsibilities
My best fundraising campaigns happen when I keep track of the people, their roles, and their responsibilities.
These roles include:
- You, the fundraiser, and your team – you are responsible for managing all aspects
- Your board members – involved in approving how fundraising operates but also partake in the asking
- Your leadership team – involved in all aspects, includes asking
- Your colleagues – have specific tasks, doesn’t always include asking
- Volunteers – have specific tasks in spreading key messages, rarely includes asking
- Clergy – they must be active in the entire fundraising process (even asking and giving)
In the next chapter, I will explain in further detail what each group does and why.
As you notice from the list, not everyone is asking for money. However, the decision of who does and does not ask goes beyond comfort levels. Having the talent to ask for donations should be a prerequisite for any leadership position in your Catholic organization. Having a talent doesn’t always mean it is easy to use. Sometimes, the activities we are best at are the ones we also find most challenging yet fulfilling.
Question: What other steps have you used to get people involved in your fundraising campaigns? You can leave a comment below.
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