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GFA St. Louis Keynote Speaker Kay Sprinkel Grace:
The AAA Way to Fundraising Success: Building Capacity For Successful Fundraising Through Teamwork

When Kay speaks to board members they often say, “I joined this board because I’m passionate about the organization, but they never ask me to do anything.”To engage the board members, you need to be specific, not general in assigning roles. Asking someone, “Can you help with fundraising?” is too general. You can’t assume that people know what to do and how to do it. You must be specific about each person’s purpose. Boards who are passionate WILL go out and fundraise IF given tools, knowledge, encouragement and reinforcement.

Board Roles in Fundraising:

  • partner with staff
  • help identify, cultivate prospects
  • introduce people (warm handoff)
  • make own commitment
  • ask for gifts
  • maintain links with supporters and assist with renewal process (stewardship)
  • other possibilitiesEngage the Board in the Full Development Process
  • Identification
    At each board meeting, put a piece of paper in front of everyone’s seat and ask them to write down “anyone you’ve met who might be interested in learning more about our school.” or “Write down the names of five people who share your values about Jewish education.” Don’t always go to the same people (everyone else is asking them, too).
  • Qualification
    Not embarrassing or inappropriate…silent prospecting. Look at a list of names. “These are the new names that have come in, what do we know about them? What are they interested in? do we think they have capacity? Don’t wait until the last minute….do this as an ongoing process.
  • Development of strategy
    Brainstorm strategy. What will you invite people to? How will you include them?
  • Cultivation
    Master the open-ended question. “Tell me what interests you in Jewish education” We need to LISTEN.
  • Solicitation
    Relationship is best when it is face-to-face fundraising. Never go alone; always take someone else with you. These kinds of conversations can go off the rails. If there are three people there, one is listening while the other is talking, and the listener can help bring the conversation back on track if necessary. Bring a board member or faculty member who is an “expert” in the donor’s area of interest.
  • Stewardship
    How can you keep donors involved and interested?
  • Renewal
    Don’t forget about people until the next time you need money. Think of renewal as renewing relationships not money!

A “Triple A” board is one where every member is motivated to be either an

  • Ambassador
    This is a role that everyone plays. If you’re not willing to be an ambassador for the school, you shouldn’t be on the board.
    Ambassadors make friends, build relationships
    Ambassadors must be well trained and coached in the school’s message about their impact, confident with the elevator speech about the school
  • Advocate
    Advocates make the case (formal and informal). They are strategic in their information sharing. Advocates are carefully informed on the case for support and understand the strategic plan and vision. They should be helped to handle objections and tough questions.
  • Asker
    Make the ask, frontline fundraiser. Askers enjoy asking. They are well informed and well trained. They are matched with prospective donors or current donor-investors for maximum possibility of success. Team them with another board asker or staff leader for the solicitation. They are coached right before the ask. Askers benefit from the work of the Ambassadors and Advocates.

Some board members will do it all, but most will excel at one or two roles. Their motivation is increased because they can choose the tasks that draw on their skills and are in their “confidence zone.” Don’t “over label” people. Let them call themselves what feels comfortable. Example: Someone may say, “I’m an ambassador and an advocate” but that person may sometimes ask for a gift.

Measuring Effectiveness:

  • Ambassador: Number of contacts they make and report. Create an easy way for them to relay information to prospect files.
  • Advocate: Was the task accomplished and did it have desired results?
  • Asker: Success of the asker is the easiest to measure

Honor all of the roles. Start each board meeting asking people to “Share Our Successes.”