Before your board can work for you and help move your mission forward, you have to ensure the right people are on board.  You need diversity of skill set, connectivity, experience, and demographics.  Many Parrish Consulting clients are familiar with our board composition piece.  This allows us to identify that you have the right make up for your board.  Generally speaking, boards are saturated with executive management and administrative skills and while this is necessary as they are contemplative, you also need insurance, sales, real estate.  Folks in this industry tend to have a natural sales personality which lends itself to the work of fund development.

One of the major responsibilities of the board is to ensure the organization has the resources necessary to achieve the mission, and this goes beyond simply reviewing financials.  It means that not only do they ensure that the financial health of the organization is up to IRS standards, but they need to actively participate in the process of philanthropy.  Without this, the mission does not move forward.

More simply put: the board needs to identify, invite, and steward prospects, and to bring those prospects from casual observers to raving fans.

Let me explain some easy steps the board can take to ensure the organization’s livelihood is secure.

Board members, LISTEN!

The universe is full of prospective donors for your organization.  When you are out networking in the community, listen to gauge the inclination of those around you.  Who should be invited to a tour or an event?  The action step from listening will be a personal ask for involvement.  And not via mass email.

P-e-r-s-o-n-a-l   A-s-k.

Now that you have ‘listened’ in the community, you should have a targeted list of people to INVITE to that tour or event your organization is hosting next month.  Bring those prospects!  Fill your table or fill the tour with those folks who already have a natural inclination to the mission.  Have a cell phone?  I’m quite sure you do.  Start storing information of those you come in contact with.

So, you have listened and invited.  Chances are that prospect is now interested.  They may have given a gift already.  Time to THANK THEM!  Help make phone calls, write a thank you note.  Did you know that a first-time donor has a 25-50% renewal rate?  This increases if the cultivation process is happening.  Did they get a receipt from the organization?  Most likely.  Or I should dearly hope so.  But now they want something personal.  Help with those phone calls to just say thanks or jot a quick note.  You can easily do this while at your next board meeting.

Now, if you have done your job as an active board member, that donor has officially moved from a casual observer you met at Starbucks to a raving fan of your organization.  And you couldn’t be more proud.  You are ready to hand off that donor to the care of the organization.  But don’t think you are totally off the hook yet!  Donors at this level are now talking big steps with the organization: investing, long-term planning, etc.  But we still need to make sure they are happy and engaged.  You still serve as the eyes and ears for the organization to help gauge the interest of that donor.

Good job and keep those fans rolling in!