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Getting your board on board for fundraising

A great asset to any organisation is a board that is committed to and actively involved in fundraising.

While board members, like most of the rest of the population, often find fundraising an uncomfortable thing to do, it must be remembered that they hold the responsibility for the success or otherwise of the organisation. And success not only requires good programs, services and activities but also the necessary funding to implement them.

A fundraising partnership

The board and staff need to form a strong partnership and a joint commitment to fundraising and both parties need to be clear about what their roles and responsibilities will be.

Board members can work with staff to fundraise by:

  • Providing input into fundraising plans
  • Chairing or being a member of the fundraising committee
  • Identifying and cultivating new prospects for staff to follow-up
  • Accompanying staff on key visits to funders
  • Helping with expressions of thanks.

Going it alone

Board members can also fundraise on their own.

To kick things off it can be a good idea have individual board members write up their own fundraising plans, including goals and a time line. This allows staff to know when they might be called on to help, ensures that events don't clash, and ensures that the same donors aren't solicited by several board members. Drawing up individual fundraising plans will also give board members an incentive to create fundraising goals and encourage a sense that they are making a real contribution. The individual board member strategies can then be incorporated into the organisation's main document.

Below are some ideas to get you started.

Enlist your friends

List all of your friends who are interested in your organisation, or similar organisations. Decide on an amount, say $500, and give part of the $500 yourself. Then ask your friends to match your gift of $25, $50, or whatever you have chipped in.

Some people will need 10 friends to give $50, others need 50 friends to give $10.This method of fundraising works because you are not asking your friends to do anything you haven't done yourself.

If your personal funds are short, pledge $20 a month, and pledge to get one other person per month to do likewise.

Set a challenge

Set up a challenge campaign. Challenge gifts can be quite small - tell people you'll give $5 for every $25 they give, or will match every $10 gift up to 10 gifts. For added suspense, make this challenge during a fundraising event. The host can announce, "We now have the John Smith Challenge for the next five minutes. John will give $5 for every new member that joins our club."

Make a solid contribution

Give the organisation something it needs, such as a fax machine, filing cabinets, a couch, a month's supply of printing paper, a computer program, etc. Or offer to pay a month's rent.

Get someone else to make a solid contribution

Find out what items your group needs and try to get them donated. This is good for people who really hate to ask for money but who don't mind asking for things that cost money. Items that one can sometimes get donated include computers, paper, office supplies, office furniture (second-hand from banks and corporations as they redecorate), even cars.

Donate your skills

Offer to hold a seminar on a topic you know well: fundraising, organic gardening, proposal writing, starting your own business, managing investments, parenting, men's or women's health, Asian cooking, dog grooming, etc. Or lead or get someone else to lead a nature walk, an architectural tour, a historic tour, a sailing trip, a rafting trip, or a horseback ride. Charge $15-25 per person, or charge $35 and provide lunch. Either absorb the cost of promotion, or have enough participants to cover it.

Play host

Host a gourmet dinner at your home for 20 or more people. Charge $35 or more per person. If you own a holiday house in a beautiful place or in an expensive city, donate a weekend stay as part of a raffle prize or an auction item.

Do your homework

Research all the service or sports clubs in town and see what their giving policies are. They often have formal giving guidelines for large grants of $2000 and up, but have smaller amounts of money available for specific small projects. See what you can tap into.

Ask friends who belong to service clubs and other giving organisations to discuss your organisation within their group and consider it for donations. A once-a-year sweep of even small organisations can yield $100 from each.

Hold a stall

Ask two to five friends to help with a cake stall, book sale, or garage sale. You and your friends should cook, collect the books or other stuff required for the sale, staff it, and clean up afterwards. This is an excellent way to have people involved in fundraising without ever actually asking them for money.

Forgo your gifts

Invite people to your birthday party and ask that in lieu of gifts they give money to your organisation.

Make a lasting contribution

Include the organisation in your will. A bequest doesn't necessarily have to be large amounts of money; it could be shares, artworks, property or even cars - anything of value that the organisation can sell.

Don't forget your day job

If you are CEO of another organisation, establish a matching gift program in your workplace, and encourage your staff to consider your organisation as a beneficiary.

Pass the plate

For the church-going: ask if your organisation can be a "second collection." The church passes the plate for its own collection and you or someone else from your organisation gives a brief talk about your group and the plate is passed again; the proceeds go to your group.

Hold a function

Hold one fundraising event every other month that nets at least $50. This might look like:

  • Card party - raises $100
  • Fancy dinner (8 people at $25 each) - raises $200
  • Sell 50 raffle tickets at $1 each - raises $50
  • Book sale - raises $50

Make a sacrifice

Offer to do something your friends and family have been nagging you to do anyway, and attach a price to it. For example, quit smoking on the condition that your friends donate to your group, or get your friends to pay a certain amount for every day you don't smoke up to 30 days. (This method can easily be applied to other healthy behaviours, such as exercising daily.)

Every little bit helps

Ask five to 10 people to save all their change for three to six months. Save yours as well. Host a wine and cheese night to count it at the end of the prescribed time.

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