Four Strategies to Connect Donors with Your Board

Let’s face it, no nonprofit leader or staff can do it alone. This is why nonprofit organizations, schools, and universities turn to their boards for guidance and support.

By Bill Rose, Winkler Group Consultant

Nonprofits rely on many resources, but especially the volunteer leadership that comes from their board of directors. This diverse group of community leaders brings a wealth of gifts and talents to help strengthen and enhance the mission. Their experience, passion, and willingness to serve benefit the organization in aiding the constituents they serve.   

But board members and trustees can also be your best-kept secret—a valuable tool in the process of donor cultivation.  

It's time to showcase one of your most important assets—your board.

Putting a face to a name is a critical first step in familiarizing your donors with volunteer leadership.

Over the years, I have realized that donors often have no knowledge of who is on the board or why they hold that position.  And if donors don’t know who is leading your organization or making key decisions, they may feel less confident about the organization’s ability to effectively use their contributions.

It’s time to let your donors know more about your board; tell your stakeholders who these important people are and what they mean to the life, breath, and pulse of your organization.    

Consider trying one or more of these strategies to connect donors with your board:

Highlight one or two board members in your quarterly publications.

Carve out a section in the periodical and call it Board’s Corner. Post a picture and a short biography of the board member. A few sentences will suffice. Have the board members answer a couple of questions like:  What is it about this organization that calls you to serve? What is something most people don’t know about this organization?  

Create a section on your website that highlights the board and includes their names, careers, and why they feel called to serve.

Board members will usually have their own altruistic reasons behind their service; a place that highlights these passions will motivate both new and loyal donors. Draw people into the webpage by inviting them to click on a board member’s image to learn more.  

Have board members attend events...and introduce them.

Invite and introduce board members at key events for the organization. Ribbon cuttings, award ceremonies, honorary dinners, cultivation events, or a gala or fundraisernever pass up an opportunity to introduce your board members or trustees to a larger audience. It is a way of thanking them for their service and recognizing their gift of time and commitment to your organization.  It also gives them a chance to connect with your donors and build relationships around shared philanthropic passions. 

Share with your constituency the good work board members are doing.

Recognize the achievements of individual board members by sharing themIf a board member receives an industry award or passes an important milestone, post it on your Facebook page or Instagram feed along with their picture. Never let an opportunity go by to acknowledge their achievements. Set your Google alerts now with your board members’ names and get your staff involved as well. And do not forget to write them a congratulatory note. It will demonstrate that you’ve thought about it and taken the extra time to show appreciation.  

The effort is well worth the reward.

Taking the time to highlight board members today can only help to strengthen donor relations for the organization or institution and bring awareness to your constituency.

Donors are the lifeblood of any organization, and it is important to ensure that they are connected to your board of directors.  Using these strategies to connect donors with your board will provide donors with an opportunity to get to know the individuals behind your organization’s mission, establishing trust and allowing them the opportunity to get to know your board and organization on a personal level.  By bringing your board into the fold, you foster a sense of community and shared purposea springboard for continued giving.

Your board members can be a wonderful asset, a public relations opportunity to showcase your organization and their personal or professional achievements. That is what I call a win-win.  Let the world know about your board and start sharing their good news.   

You May Also Like: The Board Preparedness Worksheet

Is your board ready for a capital campaign?

We wear many hats as fundraisers. But we must remember that our biggest role is to develop relationships—among our board members as well as our donors. If left unattended, a dysfunctional board can derail a campaign before it begins. 

With the Winkler Group’s newest resource, The Board Preparedness Worksheet, you can rate your board on core competencies like roles and responsibilities, spheres of influence, personal investment, and campaign planning—and learn how to increase their functionality 

If your board is not where it could be, this worksheet will help identify the gaps and where more work needs to be done. With coaching and intentionality, most boards can become well-oiled governing bodies that lend support and influence to successfully execute a campaign. 

About the Author

Bill Rose is a nonprofit leader with 25 years of nonprofit and fundraising experience. He specializes in capital campaign management and cultivating the relationships that build robust cultures of philanthropy. Connect with Bill on LinkedIn.

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