How Can a Purple Rhino Help You Get Your Board to Raise Money on Giving Tuesday?

“The Super Bowl of Crowdfunding” – that’s what Blackbaud’s npEngage calls Giving Tuesday.  Wouldn’t it be great to have 100% board member involvement?

The newly released Leading with Intent preview from BoardSource shows that only 26% of Board members get involved with asking at some point in the year.  There is a lot of opportunity for improvement there.

I believe that smart, well-meaning board members do want to get involved in fundraising.  They’re just not confident. They don’t know the nonprofit as well as you do. They haven’t been attending fundraising workshops for decades like you have (okay – maybe I’m the only one who is that old!). I believe that a large part of the challenge is that we as nonprofit leaders are not adequately supporting, training, resourcing, and encouraging them in asking.

With that in mind, how can you support, train, resource, and encourage on Giving Tuesday? Better yet, how can you do these things before Giving Tuesday so Board members are good to go that day?  Here are my Top 5 Recommendations.  They’re quick and easy so even though Giving Tuesday is only 2 weeks away, you can do it!

  • Make your board members some Giving Tuesday talking points.  What is your key message this Giving Tuesday?  If you only had a few minutes to talk to someone about your organization, what would you say?  The answers to those questions are your talking points.  Give your board members a set of talking points no more than about 5 points long.  These should be very brief bullets, not paragraphs.  It’s great to offer 1 bullet point about your mission, at least 1 about your program, and 1 call to action.

Write these talking points down.  Consider printing them on a business card size piece of paper (check out one of my favorites: VistaPrint for quick and inexpensive business card printing).  Putting them on a small piece of paper means board members can tuck them in their wallets, carrying them with them that day (though encourage them to memorize them—you can even make a game out of it). 

  • Consider giving your board members a sticker or lapel pin or ribbon—something to wear the  day of Giving Tuesday—that will cause others to ask your board members about it.  This helps board members break the ice and gives them an opening to explain why they are wearing the sticker, ribbon, or pin. For best effect, consider making it something that is eye-catching or cryptic—these things make people ask questions like “Why are you wearing a sticker of a purple rhinoceros on your shirt?” To which a board member can say “You know, the only thing more precious than a purple rhinoceros is [insert talking
    point 1]…”
    Be creative and have a sense of fun. 

I once gave board members each a pair of Dollar Store, neon-green swim goggles.  We were running a fundraising campaign and using some themes from “Finding Nemo” to rally around.  After they finished wearing the goggles, holding their noses, and doing their best Swim, I asked the board members to hang their goggles on their rear view mirrors for the duration of the campaign to remind themselves to “Just Keep Swimming” toward the goal.  For weeks I saw bright green goggles swinging from rear view mirrors as board members zipped by.  A sticker or something similar serves two purposes:  (1) it’s a reminder all day-long and (2) it’s a conversation starter.

  • Equip your board members with one really good story. Share about one way your organization has made a difference this year, how you’ve changed a life or how something precious and rare was found in an acre of rain forest you saved. As with the talking points, your number is limited.  Choose just one so make it a good one.
  • Make sure your board members know that you want them to fundraise.  I know this sounds obvious.  “Of course they know,” you might be thinking.  But you might be wrong.

Last year, I was able to attend the PeerToPeer Professional Forum (formerly the Run, Walk, Ride Fundraising Forum). In one workshop, the presenter talked about zero-dollar fundraisers, the people who sign up for your fundraising walks and rides, but never raise a dollar. The presenter shared that when a large group of these people were polled, the survey revealed that many of them weren’t fundraising because they didn’t know that the organization wanted them to. They didn’t understand the purpose of the event. Hearing that made me question how many other times we are not clear and explicit when we want others to fundraise, how many other times we expect people to fundraise, but they don’t know we’re expecting them to.  We want board members to fundraise nearly all the time, but they have other lives, of which we are not the center (unfortunately).  They’re not even thinking about the organization and fundraising. It may not have occurred to them to fundraise on Giving Tuesday.  They don’t live it the way you do. So be sure you ask them to.  Make sure they know where and how to give and how your organization is collecting donations (are you using a specific website, for example).

Finally, if you have board members who are active on social media, provide them with avatars and other images like Facebook banners for the day.  I know not everyone is on social media networks, but those that are will be grateful and will enjoy using them that day.  Again, it’s another opening to make it easier for them to raise the subject.  “I changed my background image because today is Giving Tuesday.  I’m supporting the Girls Ranch and I would love for you to also. The Girls Ranch is [insert talking point #1].

Best wishes to all of you on a wonderful [SuperBowl] Giving Tuesday.