Being a Good Example to Your Board

Dear Kim,

One of my staff recently went to one of your workshops and said that you said “The executive director and the development director need to be comfortable asking for money in person, and set an example of doing that. Because if the board members think that people who get paid don’t like asking, then they, who are working for free, are really not going to ask.”

For some reason, this statement has been a light bulb for me! I am the ED. I don’t like asking, and I don’t really have much time to work with donors. The board also doesn’t like asking and we reinforce each other’s anxiety and consequently we don’t have many donors who are really at their capacity.  

To get over my anxiety, I asked a board member I trust and my development director, who is also a friend, to help me make a list of people I should see. The board member went with me for two meetings, the development director on one meeting, I went by myself for three meetings, and I made about 25 phone calls asking for meetings but not getting them. BUT, several of the phone calls were very pleasant, some donors said they would give more, and even two people I never talked to but just left a message sent bigger gifts.

Reporting all this to the board, including my own anxiety and my method of getting over it (basically—just by forcing myself to do it) has resulted in several board members also doing more personal asking! Why didn’t I think of being an example before? I don’t know. But I am so thankful that I finally see the relationship between what the board does and what the ED does.

Thank you—your methods work!

Happier and Richer in Oregon.

Dear Happier:

Thanks for your kind words. But take the credit due to you—you actually did the work! Well done.

~Kim Klein