How to Get Your Board Onboard with Events

Jan 16, 2013

The topic of board involvement is a popular one within the nonprofit world. The very nature of a board means engaging a group of busy individuals with already full schedules who have agreed to devote their time and efforts to bettering a particular mission. This is where the challenge comes in: finding proper ways to keep these otherwise busy individuals engaged. This is key to any nonprofit organization.

To begin with, it is important that members of nonprofit organizations learn proper techniques of how to engage their board for fundraising events. Board members offer their time to help guide the organization, but without a means for them to help with the campaign efforts, you might be left with lack of involvement. Events can serve as a functional way to build awareness for your campaigns, but you need to make sure that the “heavy lifting” is done so your board member is able to do what they do best – engage involvement. “Party with a Purpose” is not a new idea, but it can serve as a way to help jump start your efforts. Developing clever ways to work together can mean a world of difference for your organization and help board members feel as though they are doing their part. Below are some ideas that I used to get the board more involved with events

Start Small – Identify Room for Improvement
Begin with an under involved member of your board and do some research on them. What does that person like to do for a living? Do they have a major life event coming up? Who are their friends that you want involved in your organization? One of the successes I had was to use think-outside-of-the-box event brainstorming meetings to get our event committee more empowered. This tactic proved to be helpful when cajoled toward personalized event ideas, and away from ideas about selling wreaths and holiday cards. Below are some examples of board member involvement that has worked for me.

Idea #1 – Board Member Birthday Party
Perhaps a board member is about to turn 50. Why not have a party, otherwise known as the “board party” approach? Start by asking the board member if you might assist them in helping plan a party. One tactic might be to suggest their guests give donations to your organization in-lieu of gifts? Be in charge of the invites. This will allow you to obtain addresses, link relationships, set the stage and send thank you’s (Tip: make sure if you are sending out invitations that the host and spouse get one too!). Set up a giant wrapped present box with an envelope drop slot at the party. Mingle, wear a name-tag, hand out brochures, tell success stories, invite guests to join committees, and offer to help guests throw a party with a purpose at their next gathering.

Idea #2 – Board Member Hosted VIP Events
An intimate setting is key with VIP gatherings. Plan a small VIP gathering with one of your board members. Perhaps a board member has an especially interesting house or place of employment to serve as a venue, wine and cheese will suffice, and invite your top donors to mingle with the board president and hear a special announcement. A new initiative, program, fund, etc will be the perfect topic for this sort of event. Again, be in charge of the invites to set the tone, ask them to bring a guest or three. Tell them how important they all are to the future of your organization and ask for their input, feedback and advice.Then, stop talking, listen more, take notes, nod and smile.

Idea #3 – Board Sponsored Community Events
I’ve never met a donor who wished they could give less. Target a mid-size board donor with great potential to host a short 2-hour gathering – at your expense – to spread the word to their “community”. Be it a neighborhood meeting, book club, women’s groups, church friends, etc, people love to share their passion with their friends. Have the host tell their friends WHY they are so involved, why they gave the first time, and why they continue to give. Also invite a story teller – a recipient of your good works – to tell their story. Finish the gathering with why these people should support the future of your organization. Ask them to get involved. You will be delighted how many attendees have checks for you at the end of the event.

These approaches do much for your organization:

  1. Exposes board member’s friends and family to your cause.
  2. Obtains new donors
  3. Garners future committee and board members

You can’t thank them enough.
At any of these events, make sure your Executive Director or Board President has a thoughtful speech in hand to deliver praise for all the board member has done to FURTHER THE MISSION of your organization (Insert emotional tale here). Thank the honoree, their spouse & host, their work for letting them have time to attend board meetings, their friends for considering supporting your cause in lieu of shopping at the mall for a gift, and everyone for continuing to support your cause by telling their friends and family. Bring on the praise to all. Making everyone feel good about themselves will do wonders, add supporters to your rosters, and get your name out in the community. Oh, and it makes you a successful event planner too!

To learn more about how Omatic Software can help you with your events, please visit our EventOmatic page. 

Article written by Stephanie Johnson, Support Team Manager at Omatic Software.
Stephanie currently manages the
 Omatic support team that assists clients with a wide array of products designed to provide efficiency to their business processes. Stephanie also works closely with the product development team, sharing client needs and real life scenarios to expand the functionality of current product offerings. Prior to joining Omatic, Stephanie was the Director of Development at the Association for the Blind where she developed several new programs to drive community collaboration, grant funding and charitable giving. She was previously an Account Manager at Blackbaud where she worked with nonprofits to identify technology needs and implement long-term customized solutions. Stephanie holds a bachelor’s of science degree in business administration from the College of Charleston. On the weekends, Stephanie enjoys sailing the Charleston, SC area waters.

Omatic Software
Omatic Software is dedicated to integrating disparate systems and democratizing data access for today’s nonprofits. Founded in 2002, Omatic has worked with thousands of nonprofits globally to remove their data barriers by integrating systems and enabling nonprofit teams to leverage their donor data rather than be burdened by it. The Omatic team has one goal – unleashing the power of data to show a complete view of your donor, enabling data-driven decision making and opportunity creation for your organization.