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Nonprofits need unrestricted money.

Everyone knows that, especially our board members, right? So if they're presented with shaky financials month after month, isn't it logical to assume that their stepping up to raise money without strings needs to be part of the solution?

Maybe yes, maybe no. The relationship of mission (what we're here to do), finance (what funds we need to do it), and fundraising (how to bring in those resources) needs to be made explicit to inspire board members to extend themselves into fundraising.
What's the Money For?

So many board discussions are about money. Do we have enough, are we spending it correctly, is it on hand when we need it? Fundraising, too, can devolve into conversations that, too often, focus on the precise dollars needed to fill a gap with barely a mention of the deeply important reasons we need the funds in the first place.

Mission inspires and motivates. Board members, no matter how long they've been involved, need to be regularly reminded of the great work we do changing the world and improving people's lives, to re-kindle their passion to get out there asking their friends and colleagues for support.

Board members must be re-cultivated, again and again. Mission and results - why they joined your board in the first place - must stay front and center in the boardroom even as you grapple with delayed government contracts, the shifting whims of foundations, or personnel headaches. When board members understand the impact in the world their fundraising will achieve - not simply the budget line items those funds will be spent on - they'll be much more driven to go out and get the funding that's needed.
But Why Me?

With one part of their brain board members may understand that they should engage in fundraising as a basic responsibility of governance. But often, especially for agencies with longstanding government contracts, board members are also absorbing the message that the agency will get along just fine even if they don't fundraise. Especially if staff has been doing much of the lifting, it can leave board members rationalizing: " Sure I ought to fundraise - but if I don't, we'll still carry on."

If board members believe others will get the funding job done without them, they won't rouse themselves to action. There needs to be a tension - something essential that will be lost, or something dear to the board members' hearts that will not be achieved unless they themselves step forward. Making the financial case for why achieving more on mission is not possible without board action to fill the gap, is critical.
Keep It Real

The goal put in front of the board needs to be grounded in reality. Saying " We have a projected $200,000 gap this fiscal year" when the board's stretch fundraising capacity caps out at $50,000, doesn't move board members. On the contrary, it can even discourage - and scare - them: " No matter what we raise, we're not going to be able to make the goal."

But setting out a mini-campaign for an achievable amount - an extra $10,000 on top of the $40,000 they raised last year - could be a motivator: "If we each raise another $1,000 we can double the organization's scholarship program this summer. We can do that - and here's how!"
Fundraising is Not About Money

At the end of day, money raised is the material expression of a deeper concern for your mission. That's why, when mission and finance combine as inspiration, fundraising takes on steam.

Help your board members replace those numbers in red ink in your budget with images of joyful kids and stronger families, and you will discover your partners in fundraising are sitting alongside you in the boardroom, ready to lead the charge. 
Tales of Retreat Success: Jamaica Center for Arts and Learning (JCAL)

Jamaica Center for Arts and Learning is a multi-disciplinary art center that celebrates creative expression by promoting the works of visual and performing artists, and provides accessible education programs that encourage participation in the arts. Ten of JCAL's 16 board members were new to board service and five of them had been added to JCAL's board in the past year. JCAL asked Cause Effective to facilitate a retreat to get everyone on the same page about the organization's Vision 2020, its far-reaching goal to position it as the leading cultural institution in a rapidly-changing Southern Queens.

Starting with a discussion about Vision 2020, the conversation focused on one central question, recounted executive director Cathy Hung: " If the organization wants to achieve its strategic agenda, what should the board's role be?" That discussion naturally led to fundraising: " We are asking our board members to step outside their comfort zone to ask for our organization," she explained, "and we had to give them a very clear overview of what actions they could take." Board chair Michelle Stoddard elaborated: " The retreat gave us buoyancy; we realize that fundraising starts with us, the board." Coming out of the retreat, she added, " We are really inspired to do the work we need to in order to secure the organization's future."
Cause Effective Can Help

The specific pathway to unlocking board fundraising potential is different for every board, but certain fundamental principles about human behavior and motivation apply.

We'd be glad to think your particular situation through with you - contact us to brainstorm about creating your path to a fully functioning fundraising team. 

Judy Levine 
Executive Director  
Cause Effective Around Town
Workshops, Awards, Retreats, Publications... and more! 
Cause Effective Workshops:
Thinking about a big anniversary bash? Think even bigger than that. Why not celebrate and reap the benefits of your anniversary all year long? Anniversary campaigns can boost your organization's infrastructure, visibility, and resources well beyond what can be achieved in a single night
Wed. March 21st 10:00-12:00 at The Foundation Center
Special Thanks to BNY Mellon

For support of Cause Effective's public workshop offerings
 Excellence Awards
To examine your organization's management practices and receive expert feedback to strengthen your ability to meet your mission,  every eligible nonprofit should consider applying for the  2018 Nonprofit Excellence Awards. Applications due 4/20/18 are currently being distributed.
Click here to find out more!  
Cause Effective Retreats Create a Fundraising-Ready Board
If your board members need inspiration, a full or half-day retreat might provide an opportunity to deepen their knowledge of program priorities, get a full sense of your organization's financial imperatives, and make a plan for how board-centered fundraising can become a reality.

Cause Effective does more than just facilitate your meeting - we will guide your board team to:

* Rekindle their passion for mission which led them to join the board

* Define responsibilities so that board members govern, rather than manage

* Approach fundraising with imagination and energy

* Kick off a new, action-oriented board fundraising plan that gets results

Read more about Cause Effective retreats and contact consulting@causeeffective.org
to discuss a customized retreat to meet your board's needs. 
Cause Effective Article

It's Not About The Stuff: Choosing The Right Fundraising Strategy

The gavel comes down on every fundraiser's nightmare: An exclusive back-stage tour of Hamilton is going for $500, and the donor is going to be mad.

Expecting it would raise at least $5,000, the donor is sitting in the back of the room wondering why this jewel, which is clearly worth so much more, is going for so low a price.

The answer is a mismatch between the item and the people in the room. How did this nonprofit get to this juncture?
This article details common examples of fundraising "rights" gone wrong -in special events and beyond - and what can be done to prevent these expensive mistakes.  [Read more]
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For 35 years, Cause Effective has strengthened the nonprofit sector by increasing the capacity of more than 5,000 nonprofits to build sustainable communities of supporters. We transform people, culture and systems, coaching nonprofits to learn, carry out and sustain new approaches to fundraising and board engagement.

To learn more, please visit www.causeeffective.org.