Finding a Fundraising Task for Everyone

Dear Kim,

I am the board chair of a small organization in a very rural (1,000 pop) town.  We are not on the tourist track and, if we were to face the truth, we would admit that in 20 years our town probably won’t exist.  Our organization helps seniors stay in their homes, which in our case are sometimes quite scattered over a large area.  We have some government funding and a couple of events plus about 50 regular donors and two dozen really wonderful volunteers.  I say all this because I have read your stuff and really find it useful, except for the advice to move people off the board who don’t help with fundraising.  We have several board members who won’t help with fundraising but are active volunteers and actually good board members otherwise.   They are very firm in this conviction.  (They all make their own gifts.)  We just don’t have the population that would allow us to find other board members but I don’t like the feeling we have now which is that some people help with fundraising and others don’t.  I want everyone to feel they are part of fundraising.  Any suggestions? 

~Not quite the middle of nowhere, but you can see it from here. 

Dear See it From Here,

I know exactly the situation you are in, and I am sorry if my writing has come across so harshly.   Of course you can’t ask these people to leave, especially if they are doing other good work.  And there are many ways people can meaningfully contribute to fundraising.  Some are fairly obvious:  board members can write thank you notes or make thank you calls in response to a gift.  Sometimes board members don’t want to do any thanking because they are concerned that everyone in town will know that they know who gives what.  Privacy is a great concern in a small place.  SO, here are five really low key things to get people started:

1)   Any work on the special event, especially being on the cleanup committee, should count toward fundraising.

2)   For those who use email:  add a phrase on their signature, “Proud board member of ____” with a link to the website.

3)   Help with mailings including hand addressing the envelopes. 

4)   Allow their own story to be told in the newsletter:  why did they agree to be on the board and why do they give money? 

5)   Maintaining and updating the donor database. 

Fundraising is actually thousands of tasks and they all have to get done.  Many of them are very behind the scenes and will eminently suit people who don’t want to ask for money.  You can also check out my article, “53 Ways for Board Members to Raise Money” for additional ideas, and subscribe to the Grassroots Fundraising Journal to get the Jan/Feb 2014 issue focused on building your fundraising team.

~Kim