Board Exercises: Simple Assignments

Dear Kim,

Periodically, we have some time at board meetings to spend on fundraising practice and trainings. We have already discussed our feelings about money, and the worst things that can happen in an ask, per your suggestions. Can you recommend some more direct exercises that we can do amongst ourselves, to increase everyone’s fundraising skill level?

Thank you,
—Willing to Exercise

Dear Willing,

First of all, I commend you for spending time at your board meeting talking about fundraising and engaging in practice. Over time, you will see positive results from this. I recommend now that each board member have fundraising assignments between board meetings that they have to report back on. For example, a board I recently worked with asked each board member to ask two people for money before the next meeting, which was in a month. They could either ask people they knew, or be assigned people from a prospect list. By keeping the number so low (TWO), and by giving people a choice of asking friends or asking strangers, no one could reasonably say that they couldn’t find the time or figure out two people in the whole wide world to ask. At the board meeting, almost everyone had completed their assignment, and many people had asked more than two people. One woman said, “I wish I had known how easy this is. I have spent so much time agonizing over asking, and it turns out to be fun!” Fundraising is a lot like swimming. You can talk and look at videos and ask other people about their experience, but ultimately you are going to have to get in the pool. This is the next step for your board members.

Good luck.