Who’s Out in Front?

Who's Out in Front

With any project or undertaking how you organize and deploy your resources has a lot to do with your outcome.
Fundraising is no different.
Getting the right folks out in “front” is essential to success.
Principle 3 of The Eight Principles™ is Leadership Leads™.  Sounds simple, doesn’t it?  And it is easy to understand.
Implementing it, not so much.
Leaders lead first by example.  Positional leaders in a nonprofit are its board members.  Whatever board members do, others emulate.
That’s why it’s so important for donors to lead by making their own investments first.  Otherwise, the question you’re likely to get from a serious donor will be, “Why haven’t those who stand to gain the most made their investments?  Is there something I should know?”
Leading in fundraising begins with making a believable investment in the cause but it doesn’t end there.
Actively participating in the getting of investments in the next step.
There are many board members who will make a gift—sometimes a very good one—who will immediately recoil or flinch when asked to “fundraise”.
Why?  Because “fundraise” is often a euphemism for “solicit.”
“I can’t ask,” they say.  Whether it’s ask their relatives, friends or total strangers, they insist they are uniquely unqualified for the job.
Well, some folks are cut out for soliciting and some are not.  We can debate whether someone is capable.  For my part there are far more who are capable than there are who say they are up to the task.
Reducing fundraising to soliciting, doesn’t do board member fundraising responsibilities justice, however.
There are actual at least four ways members of your governing board need to participate in fundraising.
First, as advocates for your organization.  Telling the story and telling it with knowledge and passion.  Being convincing.
Second, as networkers.  Principle 5 of The Eight Principles™ is Work from the Inside Out™.  As everyone in the world is connected in six degrees of freedome or less, it’s easy to see how quickly your network of supporters can mushroom with a little help from your board members.
Third, there is evaluating.  Knowing how to review an annual fundraising plan and critique it.  Looking at a fundraising report and knowing the right variables to hone in on (Hint:  one of them ISN’T cash received).   Knowing the qualities you’re looking for in a development officer—and it’s not being a bounty hunter.  Being able to evaluate fundraising progress effectively then feeds into the ability to see that your program is resourced adequately and effectively.
Finally, there IS soliciting.  Yes, someone has to ask.  And there will be times when the person doing the ask can and should be a board member.  My rule of thumb:  the person doing an ask should be the person most likely to get a “yes.”
Although asking is essential it’s actually a very small part of the whole.  And without the other three pieces, I can guarantee that the asking won’t be very productive.
The question to ask yourself is, “Are the privates or the generals leading the charge?”
Let’s hope it’s your generals.