Whether you’re a small, medium or large non-profit, you can never really have too many fundraisers.
Fundraising can be a never ending job. But the more capacity your organization has for fundraising activities, the more likely you’ll be to advance towards your goals. Capacity doesn’t always have to mean hiring more full or part time fundraising staff.
In fact – you already have plenty of people at your organization primed to become your best fundraisers. Staff and board members!
Why Staff and Board Members Could Be Your Organization’s Most Passionate Fundraisers
Here’s the simple truth – you don’t have to be a professional fundraiser to be great at fundraising.
Fundraising is really about telling stories that emotionally connect with your audience.
Storytelling fulfills a profound human need to grasp the patterns of living—not merely as an intellectual exercise, but within a very personal, emotional experience. It turns out we’re wired that way, and lots of research backs this up. When it comes to persuading folks to donate to your cause it’s best done by storytelling. Not data. Not random content. Storytelling is what makes your content meaningful at a visceral level. Data has its place, but it’s the poor relation to storytelling.
And storytelling does it all. It can capture attention and engage new folks online. It can educate folks who know you and get them a whole lot more interested in what you do. It can engage folks to become actively involved with you. And, ultimately, it can persuade folks to invest with you philanthropically.
Who better to tell those stories that the people actually doing the work?
Staff members are in the trenches right alongside you witnessing the transformational work that your nonprofit is doing. They see the successes, the failures, the importance of the work and the vision for the future.
Board members also have a passion for the organization and are committed to helping the organization reach its mission and vision. They came to the board room table for a reason and that story is incredibly powerful.
Going from Fearing to Loving Fundraising
I know that right about now you might be thinking, “This sounds great, Vanessa, but how do I make this happen?”
Here are 4 steps to help your organization make the transition to loving fundraising.
Step #1 – Understand Their Fears. You can’t help someone overcome their fears if you don’t know what they are. Start by casually talking to staff and board members about fundraising. Ask them about they feel about it. What works come to mind? How are those feelings different when they think of the word, ‘philanthropy’?
Step #2 – Educate Them. Once you understand what the common fears of fundraising are, it time to start education staff and board members to help them overcome their fears. Our primary objective is to show them that fundraising is about more than just asking for money. To achieve this end, talk about what philanthropy really is and what it entails (hint: it’s all about relationships). There are many roles within fundraising that don’t include asking, such as being an ambassador or advocate. Talk to your colleagues about these other opportunities to support philanthropy at your nonprofit and what the roles could entail.
Step #3 – Connect Them with Their Story. We’ve established that they can be an ambassador or advocate as a way to support your nonprofit’s philanthropy. In either of these roles, the easiest and most natural way for them to talk about the nonprofit is to talk about their personal story in relation to it. What do I mean by that? Get them to reconnect with the reason why they are so passionate about working towards your organization’s mission. Why do they love to come to work each day? What brought them to work with the organization in the first place? Lead them in a free writing exercise to get them thinking about these questions so that the next time someone asks, “what do you do for a living?” they answer by sharing their story.
Step #4 – Find Easy Opportunities For Them To Share Their Story. Being an ambassador or advocate does not mean that your colleagues have to start going out of their way to talk about your nonprofit all the time. Instead, highlight for them that there are all kinds of opportunities for them to share their story in a really natural way that can result in people becoming more interested in the organization’s work. The next family dinner party. Holiday parties. Community events. There are endless opportunities where people will ask you what you do for a living and that is an ideal time to share the stories you have.
The people who you work alongside of everyday have amazing personal stories to share about the nonprofit you work for. Rally the troops and show them that they can make a huge impact on the organization just by sharing those stories. That they too can be fundraising and they don’t even have to make an ask!
If you’ve enjoyed this blog post and are ready to harness the power of your nonprofit’s stories and raise more money this year, I invite you to join me for our latest e-course:
The Power of Storytelling – 4 Weeks to Engage Board and Staff as Passionate Fundraisers
The early bird registration price ($30 off) ends soon. Register today!