Through my in-house and freelance career, I have worked with quite a few Boards. All of them vastly different and at the same time, sharing many similarities.
It is often the case that on appointing a Fundraiser, the Board breathe a sigh of relief – “Phew, our work is over. Now its someone else’s responsibility”. If genuinely as a Board Member you and all of your colleagues have said this and have never been forced to reconsider your view, you’ve appointed the wrong fundraiser.
As the Board you are a Fundraiser’s first port of call. A good fundraiser will act as a catalyst, unlocking the sometimes hidden potential in your Board’s combined address book. However, you cannot simply hand over the contacts and leave the fundraiser to do all the work. They will do the leg work, the research, formulate the plan and help you to execute it. However, people give to people, and most effectively, to their Peers. This is not a relationship you can back out of at an early stage. It is recognised though that you may not personally want to make the ask yourself (that’s ok), you do need to be involved in the process.
Another common misnomer is how well you have to know someone before you can tell a fundraiser you know them! Trustees like to be well-connected and in a group scenario, they often don’t want to be seen to not be as useful as others. Just because you appeared in Who’s Who? on the same day as Stelios, does not mean you know him! To know someone from a Fundraiser’s point of view, they need you to be able to pick up your mobile and call them Now! I sometimes find that it is those who truly feel they are not well-connected who reap the best results. It means they have never ‘tapped-up’ their friends and colleagues and are often unaware of their potential.
A well-connected Board doesn’t have to be a Board full of rich friends (although they do help). Those who know Trustees of other organisations, companies in the area, who have a good reputation within their own sphere’s of influence and those who add credibility to your organisation all are needed.
I find it is best to work with Trustees identifying and approaching their contacts on an individual basis. They tend to be more honest, more open, and in the long run, more successful!