In the final, quiet hours of summer, it's time to slyly and stealthily kick off your fall campaign.
Your board members and advisors are recharging and rejuvenating right now, and it’s an extraordinarily good time to get on their calendars for a one-to-one conversation in early fall.
Every executive director should have a strong one-on-one relationship with each board member to ensure that the whole school of fish is swimming in the same direction during their time of service.
A one-on-one conversation is an opportunity for you to ask every board member about their experience with your nonprofit and hear out, in a more intimate setting than a board meeting, what may be on their minds.
They may have fresh ideas or concerns that don’t surface in a board environment and asking for their input right now deepens your relationship as well as their relationship with the organization.
In other words, you are helping them to become more deeply invested in your mission.
Once you’ve discussed matters, with a special focus on listening, that’s the best time to ask them personally to make a leadership donation. I recommend even suggesting your intentions in your email to meet so that you express your objectives up front and avoid the “gotcha” feeling during such a nice exchange.
“I’d like the opportunity to get to know you better/get your input outside of a board meeting on specific matters, and discuss your annual commitment as we kick off our fall campaign. We have so many exciting initiatives planned for the year and I’m so grateful you are part of our leadership team to help make them happen.”
Your board members know that a personal financial commitment is expected of them, and that it’s your job as ED to ask. It is a sign of mutual respect that you are being clear about it and not asking your Board as a group but rather as individuals with unique circumstances.
Solidifying your board’s financial commitment is Step 1 of your end-of-year campaign. It mentally frees you up to focus on your other major donors and it helps your board members do their part to attract support because they have already made it themselves to your organization. This is the ideal way to o-FISH-ally kick off your fall campaign!
Note: I wanted an excuse to use this photo so please excuse all the fish puns that help tie this story together.