I’ve been getting nervous es from colleagues who attended the 2023 AFP ICON conference in New Orleans, all bemoaning the fact not just donors but also donations are down. You see, information was presented from the full 2022 Fundraising Effectiveness Project report, and the results were sadder than usual. I want to share this with you,…Details
Sustain the positive energy of love and connection
Are you throwing your former board members out like yesterday’s trash?
This may not be your intention, but you’re kind of guilty of this if you don’t continue to (1) let them know how special they are, and (2) build personal relationships with them. After all, one of the foundations of Penelope Burk’s groundbreaking work in Donor-Centered Fundraising is the finding donors want one thing first and foremost: “Show me that you know me.”
Are You Showing Former Board you Know, Love and Feel Specially Connected to Them?
- As board members, they got used to being treated as “insiders.”
- Now that they’ve stepped off the board, you’re treating them as if they mean less to you.
Every single communication with a former board member should let them know you know who they are.
If you treat them like they’re toast, don’t be surprised when they start sending you little bread crumbs instead of the whole slice – or loaf – they once sent. People want to be appreciated. It’s just human nature. And facilitating philanthropy (the word literally means “love of humankind”) is a very human endeavor.
Don’t stop loving your former board members.
Stop blaming them for stopping to love you. Blaming is a cop out. Instead, look in the mirror and see what part you may be playing in their changed behavior.
SPECIAL TIP: You can apply much of the suggestions in this article to former staff as well. I often marvel at the hands-off way I’m treated by some of the places where I once worked, sometimes for many years. Places where I donated too, because I believed in the mission. Now I’m just a “prospect” or “lapsed donor” to them, and the communications I receive come across a bit infantalizing. After all, I know this stuff. I wrote a lot of this stuff! It just feels like they’re telling me “since you don’t work here any more, you mean nothing to us.”
Why Former Board Merit Their Own Engagement Strategy
Former board should be one of your top segments for cultivation!
IN A NUTSHELL:
- They have a deep understanding of your vision, mission and values.
- For years, they made your nonprofit one of their top philanthropies.
- They have numerous connections with your cause, including relationships with staff, each other, and even beneficiaries.
- At one point you were part of their identity and family.
- You likely have a special place in their heart.
- They may even have included you in their estate planning!
Don’t stop making beautiful music together! Continue to treat them personally, unless they specifically ask you to stop. Don’t simply relegate them to your impersonal e-news mailings or mass annual appeals. Treat them like major donors and develop a love and loyalty strategy that invites them to stay engaged with you, albeit in a new way.
8 Strategies to Build a Former Board Member Love and Loyalty StrategyDetails
Early in my career I received a piece of fundraising advice that has stuck with me to this day:
People are all people.
And what do you do with people if you want to build a relationship?
You get PERSONAL!
In fact, if I had to tell you how to win over donors with just one word, “personal” is the word I’d choose.
This One Word, ‘Personal,’ Should Become Your Mantra
Let it underscore everything you think about and do.
Your annual appeal writing. Your special events. Your newsletters. Your blog posts. Your proposals. Your reports. Your social media. Your donor cultivation.
If you take just this one word to heart — PERSONAL — you’ll be leaps and bounds ahead of the competition.
- This one word that can set you apart.
- This one word can help you build relationships like nothing else.
- This one word can sustain you, through thick and thin.
Also Make ‘Personal’ Your Spiritual Discipline
Though we we give lip service to the importance of practicing empathy and donor-centricity, truly valuable tools in building donor relationships, these terms are subsumed by the umbrella of the ‘person’ to whom they apply. Start there.
Visualize your person, and before engaging in any strategy or tactic, ask yourself:
Is there a more personal way to deliver this message?
Begin to build a PERSONAL PERSPECTIVE into your planning.
- DON’Tjust look at the masses (see left heart, above).
- DON’Tt just look at your environment, (see center heart, above).
- DO look at one person, embrace them, hug them and take them by the hand on a joyful philanthropic journey (see right heart, above).
GETTING PERSONAL has always mattered.
Today, in a still-disrupted, socially distanced, increasingly virtual environment, with striving for greater diversity, equity and inclusion at the forefront, how you get personal and how you define people are more important than ever.
Today I’d like to flesh out the multiple meanings of this word, and discuss how getting personal can help you achieve your nonprofit fundraising and marketing goals.Details