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People to help. More money. Exceptional board members. Sage advice. Partnerships that help the bottom line.

By March 24, 2009March 30th, 2014Engaging Your Board

Every organization I work with, and lots more that I don’t, would be thrilled to have more of any or all of these things. So why then don’t they? More of anything only shows up when people are being crystal clear about what is needed to make a difference.

You might remember the $1 million that was donated anonymously in December in Minneapolis to help the people who lost their homes in an apartment fire. Someone heard the story, it was all over the news. It was made clear what those people needed — money. And some generous donor gave it. In this economy.

I urge you to get specific with your “insider” community about exactly what you could use more of, so it shows up.

Here’s an example: An organization, we’ll call them Caring Community, has really struggled with raising the money they need over the last 12 months. They are in financial crisis. Staff hours have been cut. And therefore less is being done to bring the money in. A direct mail solicitation isn’t being sent out, donor “asks” have slowed to nothing and when dollars are given no one is making those donors feel special with thank you calls.

The committee working on fund development projects is 6 people – 4 board members with full-time jobs and 2 overworked staff. Often their meetings are spent talking about what isn’t working instead of getting into action.

What’s working? Caring Community has nearly 60 organizational partners with thousands of members in the faith community who help to deliver their services to homeless families. These people really love Caring Community.

So, I suggested some phone calls be made to key partners to invite them to lunch to share the reality and critical nature of their situation.

What would be shared: How dire funding had gotten; what could be done to impact the situation; and some powerful stories would be told that would illustrate the amazing 92% effectiveness rate of programs.

The suggestion was met with huge skepticism and low energy. But, the 6 people dutifully made their phone calls. And voila! Magically 13 people who already are committed to Caring Community show up at the one hour meeting. They listened, gave advice, were moved and inspired by the stories that were shared and then they took action.

Now what’s working? In less than one month the committee size has doubled! Focused, committed supporters are making progress getting the word out about the financial crisis at Caring Community. Over $5000 was raised in one week. And more will show up. I’m certain of it!

Moral to the story: COMMUNICATE. Be specific. Invite participation. Donors and volunteers can and will do more. Invite them in for a slice of something meaningful that needs doing and make sure they know what a huge difference it will make.

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