Board Cultivation is More Than Just New Board Members
by Mary Ellen Clark
Senior Vice President
You’ve worked hard to engage your board in the year-end appeal and it showed. They’ve suggested new prospects, and opened doors to these individuals. Feedback showed that year-end giving is increased over that in 2011. These efforts paid off with new donors, increased gift size and happy faces at the first board meeting of the year. Share more than just the totals with your board. Be certain that they know how many are new donors, renewed donors and increased gifts. Involve them in the acknowledgement process, by phone calls, notes or emails. Engage them.
Bloomerang completed a study comparing the activities critical to keeping board members engaged with those critical to keeping donors engaged and retained givers. Recent statistics regarding new donors shows that 70 percent of new donors give only one year or make one gift. Some of the reasons cited for this disturbing statistic show that the donor:
- Doesn’t feel that the organization needs their support
- They are not reminded to give to the organization
- The organization did not inform them of how the monies were used
The effectiveness of a board is related directly to how they perceive their performance. They want to make a difference, make new connections, give back to their community through your organization and enjoy the experiences.
Engaging board members in the same way you would a donor will reap great rewards. Whether it’s inviting them to a special event, including them in your newsletter mailing, providing quick email updates or attending a meeting, studies show that increased engagement has a direct relationship to increased fundraising efforts. Charitable Advisors report that an engaged board has a clearer vision and purpose, and ultimately provides more sustained fundraising efforts.
The following offers suggestions for engaging your board throughout the year. Make 2013 your most effective one with your board and your donors.
- Know exactly what you want a board member to do before asking them to do it. Be as specific as possible with your request.
- Have a beginning and end date in mind for each activity you request a board member to accomplish. Communicate that timeline. Volunteers should not worry that their commitment will go on forever!
- Be sure what you are asking them to do cannot be done faster, easier, better-or, more appropriately by staff.
- Provide all the necessary resources and staffing needed to get the job done right and in a timely manner.
- Make the accomplishment of your request as easy as possible to achieve by providing the board member with necessary tools (e.g. self-addressed, stamped return envelopes; easy to read and respond to lists; phone call rosters; specific instructions, etc.)
- Consider whether or not the board member has the skills, knowledge and expertise to accomplish what you are asking them to do.
- Assess the time the board member has already given to your organization before asking for that “extra” project. Consider the number of committee or task force meetings they are already committed to attend. Will they have the time and inclination to do this new task also-the way it should be done?
- Is this board member the best person for the job?
- Will they enjoy taking on this task? (Although this is certainly not a prerequisite, it does help motivate volunteers and keep them engaged if they enjoy what they are doing-so contributing their time does not begin to seem like a burden.)
- Is there a cost involved in the activity? Will they feel they are already giving a lot of time and enough money, and that this is an inappropriate expectation?
The important thing to remember is that by giving careful consideration to how you use your board members’ time, you motivate and encourage each of them to continue sharing this precious commodity with your organization. Good experiences increase the likelihood of repeat performances. (Click here to go to the Bloomerang blog page.)
Free Google AdWords for Nonprofits
You know that your board wants you to utilize opportunities to market your organization with any free or inexpensive tools available in today’s internet world. If you don’t have a staff member devoted to marketing, it’s difficult to know what’s available.
A big proponent for nonprofits is Google. Did you know that qualifying nonprofits can apply for and receive free internet ads from Google?
Google’s advertisement program, Google AdWords, has a grant program for nonprofits. If you qualify, you can receive $10,000 credit each month to spend on ads for your organization.
AdWords are the text ads that run down the right side of the page while doing a Google search. For instance, if you Google “Youth Volunteer Activities” you’ll get the normal list of activities on the body of your page, but to the right is a list of Google Ads, as shown here.
In AdWords, you create your text ad, then you set up a list of keywords. These are the search terms that you want to trigger your ad. So, if you bid on the keyword “youth,” then you may appear on that search results page when someone searches for that term.
Your account is debited only when someone clicks on your ad. Some keywords are very competitive, but others are very inexpensive. The Google Grants program allows for a maximum bid of $1. That means an AdWords account with Google Grants could generate 10,000 new visitors each month! If your target keywords are less expensive, then you could get even more new visitors.
To get started, visit the Google for Nonprofits website and join the program.