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The charge from the executive director to the board members was daunting, although the intent was to be inspiring: Raise $80,000 from new donors.

Yet instead of rising to the challenge, board members are cowering in their seats.

The scene is reminiscent of a high school classroom where the students aren’t prepared – people sink lower and lower in their chairs, hoping not to be called upon.

How can we turn this around?

How can we transform a board goal into a guiding light, not a looming threat?

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Posted on in Fundraising

Board meeting scenario: List of known donors to other groups in the field is passed around.

Board Member A says, “Hey, I know Janet Big Giver.”

Development Director, eyes lighting up, asks: “Can you introduce us?

Board member A’s response? “Send them the newsletter. It can’t hurt!

But does an unsolicited newsletter really help? 

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Posted on in Fundraising

Board member fundraising commitment sheets. Cultivation opportunities. 1-1 ask role plays.

There are many good strategies to support board members taking their first, tentative steps in fundraising. Proven tactics that work, time and time again.

So why isn’t every board member at the table? Why are board members still resistant, when presented with all the “steps to success”?

Because they’re afraid.

And we have to address that fear before any of the myriad tools and best practices of the field will be useful.

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Hours of finding just the right verb.

Anecdotes, photos, graphics, charts.

The compellingly-presented need. The dramatic longitudinal impact, obtained through impeccable research.

All produced, of course, in color, branded, visually-appealing.

A well-done case statement is indeed a great thing. It walks your organization right in the door, often before you yourself can get there. It intrigues, it impresses, it grabs one by the throat and demands a hearing.

But while a well-done case statement certainly sells, it doesn’t create a market.

And therein lies the rub.

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Posted on in Fundraising

There’s a phrase in management – the burning platform – that refers to a situation in which people are forced to act, because the alternative is worse. A crisis moment: we can’t stay where we are because the ship is burning up underneath our feet, so we have to jump (the actual impetus for the original metaphor).

The choices faced on a burning platform are powerful – an organization can’t maintain the status quo, so business as usual is not an option. What results is “immediate and radical change due to dire circumstances,” according to change management theory.

In nonprofits, this radical behavior change often includes fundraising. 

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