How to Run a Successful Board Giving Campaign

Last week, I gave you three great reasons why your organization needs an organized board giving campaign. This week, we present a formula for running a successful board giving effort. This is a formula that has been put into practice at hundreds of non-profit organizations, and is suitable for any non-profit launching (or re-organizing) it’s board giving activities.

Step #1 – Get Board Buy-In

The first step for running a successful board giving campaign is to get buy-in from your board of directors. This step is often overlooked by non-profit development staffs, but is crucial to running a smooth and successful effort. Simply put, your board must “own” the board giving campaign if it is to reach its overall goal, which should be ambitious.

The best way to get board buy in is for the chairman and executive committee of the board to present the concept of an organized board giving campaign at a regularly scheduled board meeting. This discussion should occur at least one board meeting prior to the meeting where you launch the effort. Your chairman can explain why your non-profit is holding an organized board giving campaign, why board leadership is so important, and float a financial goal for the effort. The board should then be invited to discuss the campaign and the goal, and to vote to approve the plan.

It is imperative that your board chairman and/or executive committee take the lead in announcing the campaign – so important, in fact, that the success of your effort relies on it. Board giving campaign should be board-led. Very few board giving efforts are successful when the development director or other development staff are the ones announcing the campaign and doing the solicitations. The primary driver of the board giving campaign must be the chairman and other executive officers of the board.

Equally important is that your board vote on, and approve, an overall goal and timeline for the campaign. Board members must go on record stating their approval of the goal and the deadline by which it should be raised.

Step #2 – Officially Launch the Campaign

At the next board meeting (after the board votes to approve the campaign), your chairman should announce the official launch of the campaign, remind the board of the goal and the deadlines, and set a deadline for every board member to make a pledge. Board members should be invited to fill out a pledge form for their board gift and confidentially transmit it by mail, email, or fax back to the chairman of the board. Be sure to make provisions for board members who want to spread their gift payments out over time, or who want to pledge and pay through the United Way.

Step #3 – Letter from the Chairman

In the month following the official launch of the campaign, every board member should receive a letter from the chairman of the board, along with a blank pledge form, reminding them how important this campaign is to the overall mission of the charity, and reminding the board members to get their pledges back in as soon as possible.

Step #4 – Begin Regular Updates

After a significant number of pledges have been received, the organization should begin sending out monthly e-mail updates to the members of the board letting them know (a) how much has been pledged to date, (b) how much has been received to date, (c) what percentage of board members have made a pledge, and (d) what the average pledge amount is.

Give these numbers only in the aggregate. I have found that the strategy of “name and shame” doesn’t work well with board giving campaigns… that is, putting out a list of board members along with the size of their gift, and circulating it regularly, generally does not have the desired effect for board giving efforts.

Step #5 – Follow-Up Calls

Finally, as the deadline for pledges approaches, your board chairman should make follow-up calls to those members of the board who have not yet made their pledge, asking them to do so. Your goal should be 100% board participation in the board giving campaign, as well as successfully meeting the overall fundraising goal for the effort. (For more tips on making fundraising asks, read: 7 Tips for Making the Most Out of Your Fundraising Asks).

Remember… your board should take the lead in your fundraising efforts. Their participation in an organized board giving campaign will send a strong signal to others that this non-profit is well-run, stable, and poised to do great things.

Do you need help getting your board of directors revved up about fundraising? If so, then check out How to Get Your Board Enthusiastic about Fundraising.

Photo credit: alexanderljung