The Seven Habits of Highly Effective Fundraising Board Members

The Seven Habits of Highly Effective Fundraising Board Members

It seems that everyone has their own version of the Steven Covey’s Seven Habits list – The Seven Habits of Highly Effective Families, Teens, Fundraisers, Non-profit Leaders, Blog Writers and so on. So I thought it was high time I chimed in for those special board members who are effective fundraisers. What might their seven habits be?

Highly Effective Fundraising Board Members:

  1. Understand the goals. Effective board members know what the fundraising goals are and how they relate to the organization’s strategic objectives. You believe in the mission. You support it with your own giving. And you are able to articulate why doing so is important.
  2. Know the organization’s donors. One of the bigger problems I see in my consulting work is that the organization’s donors do not know the board members, and the board members do not know the donors. There is never an adequate excuse for this. If you are the driver, and staff are the nuts, bolts, pistons, and tires, donors are the fuel. The three groups MUST work together for the car to go anywhere.
  3. Interact with donors in person and over the telephone. If “knowing” is so important, so is the time you spend interacting. Effective Board members spend “facetime” with donors. (Facetime only counts when you are acting in the capacity of your board position. A golf outing where your connection with the organization never comes up doesn’t count.)
  4. Support each other’s fundraising efforts. Effective Board members go with each other on donor calls. You help each other get motivated and circumvent obstacles. You introduce donors to other Board members. And you share stories.
  5. Use personal stories. Effective Board members know the importance of being there. It changes the story from third person to first person. Nothing is more powerful than your own story connecting to the mission.
  6. Keep good records. We all know it in principle; we need to know it in practice: We will not be here forever. Those who follow need to be able to pick up where you leave off. This is only possible if you leave good records. The important relationship is the one between the donor and the organization. Any number of people should be able to step in and be the organizational “face.”
  7. Practice. Effective Board members rehearse before calls, practice articulating the mission and programs, and help each other get comfortable with core materials. You can be donor-centered, and follow the donor’s lead, only when you are knowledgeable about a broad array of organizational programs. You won’t get there overnight, or because you attend a 90-minute “orientation” session. You get there because you practice.

So three cheers for all the highly effective Board members out there! Keep it going.

What “habits” would you add to the list?


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