Jimmy LaRose Says, “Real Boards Don’t Fund Raise!”

Jimmy LaRose Says: Here’s what you do. Find fifteen busy community leaders…ask them do 120 hours of free work per year…then ask them to PAY YOU to do the free work (100% Board Giving) after they’ve paid, explain that the work you need them to do is something they have never done, are not good at, and will make them uncomfortable!

It defies reasoning, does it not? Yet, fundraising professionals around the world peddle this silliness, despite the fact that it doesn’t work. Here’s an article I read this week from a leading expert on board development. “Should board members fundraise? Why not? Seriously, I don’t get this one at all. If your governing body is free to make strategic and programmatic decisions without understanding, first hand, the financial implications of those decisions, you are setting your nonprofit up for failure.”

I have a sense that the author may have forgotten that:

-Board service is not a board member’s job
-Board members join boards to network and enjoy themselves
-Board members are not motivated by guilt
-Board members respond to accountability differently than staff
-Board members may not have the skills to do face-to-face “asking”
-Board members may not want to do face-to-face fundraising

Furthermore, well-run boards understand that fundraising IS NOT an ADVICE & ACCOUNTABILITY function and that mandating it can demoralize members who are already performing a very important service.

BUT WAIT, JIMMY…that’s why it is so important to provide regular board training.

Each year, hundreds of millions of dollars leave the charitable sector and end up in the bank accounts of publishers and consultants who are peddling swill (by the way, I am both a publisher and consultant who in the past has been a swill peddler).

Training is key to growing an enterprise. In days gone by, cross-trainers would test an employee in four separate disciplines. If, out of the four, he or she performed as low as 35% in one area, they’d go ahead and invest training dollars to improve performance in that particular discipline. Someone finally looked at the data, and discovered that after proper training and re-testing, the employee’s performance moved from 35% up to a whopping 43%—which subsequently disqualified them from working in that area, and also indicated that training them had little or no effect.

Here’s my point; place gifted volunteers in positions that they love. Invite them to perform tasks they enjoy and already do well.

Jimmy LaRose Says, “Never try to teach a pig to sing; it wastes your time and it annoys the pig.”

Here’s the good news. Fundraising may not be the board’s responsibility, but is still a key volunteer function that’s a whole lot easier to do if you build a non-governing campaign cabinet comprised of veteran fundraisers who are really good at asking for money!

Let me tell you about Charlotte Berry.

I’ve worked on various projects with Charlotte for over a decade, and am one of many witnesses to her extraordinary example of what it means to be a volunteer fundraiser. Charlotte is also one of National Development Institute’s greatest champions. I’m personally grateful for our friendship.

Charlotte began collecting dimes from classmates for her school’s Junior Red Cross chapter at age twelve. Today, at age eighty-four, she continues in that same tradition as a national spokesperson for the value of philanthropy, and volunteerism. Over the years, she’s generated millions of dollars for various community causes through her own personal gifts as well as through the solicitation of public and private funds from others. She’s served on bank boards, college boards, led cultural arts projects, and co-founded various groups, including Women in Philanthropy. Her national service to both the American Red Cross and the United Way of America further demonstrate her unwavering commitment to grow the charitable sector.

Charlotte will testify that one of her most important responsibilities is to involve people in philanthropy for the first time. She enjoys helping others find the right fit for what they have to offer e.g. volunteer work, a board position, or a financial gift they hadn’t previously considered. She strongly believes that everyone should experience what it feels like to give back, and is fond of saying, “Do something every day to feel good.”

Simply put, in our town, if you’re about to launch a fundraising campaign you want Charlotte to be at the helm.

Here’s what I’m trying to get at:

First, most volunteer board members are not a “CHARLOTTE BERRY!”

Second, every successful fundraising campaign needs a “CHARLOTTE BERRY!”

Any nonprofit that’s about to tackle a multi-million dollar fundraising campaign must patiently wait for their champion to emerge. Charlotte is a well-heeled philanthropist who built friendships with prominent families and leaders in every community she’s called home. Her capacity to SECURE & ORGANIZE a team of fellow-volunteers who both “give” and “ask” is the difference between fundraising success and failure.

Here are your options:

#1 Demoralize board members by insisting they do something they can’t
or won’t do.

…or instead…

#2 Find a veteran fundraiser who will inspire the right people to join and
fundraise for your campaign.

All I’m trying to say is let board members be board members! Let fundraisers be fundraisers! Don’t require board members to be something they’re not! Give every volunteer a job that they love! Live and let live!

Jimmy LaRose Says, “Real Boards Don’t Fund Raise!” was written by author, speaker and veteran fundraiser Jimmy LaRose. VISIT HERE to learn more about his industry best-seller RE-IMAGINING PHILANTHROPY.

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