I lost the good tooth lottery. Over the last few weeks, I’ve had several long and painful stays in the chairs of various dental professionals.
Trust me when I say I know from root canals.
So it was with an extra “ouch” that I absorbed a friend’s story of a board member wondering which was worse: root canal or fundraising.
As a fundraiser, my first instinct is to explain, teach, inform such a board member. Then, of course, they’d know fundraising isn’t painful at all!
And this would be done because, for board members, fundraising isn’t really an option, right?
But then I thought about my own experience as a board member.
I don’t have to be persuaded about the importance of fundraising. So why have I sometimes groaned inwardly when faced with volunteer fundraising?
Here’s when fundraising is painful
1. When I’m asked to do something that feels like bad fundraising to me.
Like suddenly being handed a list of names and asked to just call them and ask for money. I want to know why I’m being asked to call. I want to know what communication has already happened. I want to know this isn’t just an easy way to check names off a to-do list.
If communication hasn’t been good before that call, if it hasn’t been focused on the donor, then my effort will just be intrusive and annoying.
2. When there is no case for support, or none that makes sense to me.
This always feels lazy. Motivation? Just send us money, will you?
I want any organization I’m involved with to really think through what will move a donor. Why does this matter? What will it do for you?
I’ve been the annoying person pushing for clarity when everyone else is ready to just do it. But I really think a case for support is not optional. It doesn’t have to be fancy, but it does have to be meaningful.
3. When the task and the talent aren’t matched.
Yes, I do think every board member should be involved in fundraising. But that doesn’t mean everyone will be a solicitor. And it doesn’t mean every solicitor will work in the same way. For instance, I really don’t like making phone calls. But I’m very happy to hand-write personal notes. Or write a moving email. Or chat with someone face to face.
It’s hard, but fruitful, to connect your board members to the work they can do best. Fundraising should always feel personal. Match the volunteer to the right job and you’ll see much more success.
A final suggestion to turn pain to gain.
Keep your volunteers in the know. Part of the fun of fundraising is a positive feedback loop. Report back. Share the wins. Put the less good news in a positive light. And don’t be stingy with the credit. Pin it all on your volunteers. Praise them instead of patting your own back.
You’ll have happy board members who never compare fundraising to root canals!