4th of a 5 part series:  Former Board members as star fundraisers

This blog piece is the fourth in a five-part series about utilizing Board members who are ready to rotate off your Board as a resource for the local Main Street organization. In this post we explore fundraising duties that former Board members can be asked to lead on behalf of your Main Street organization.

Don’t lose your stars

Fund raising is often at the heart of the Organization Committee’s work plan, because the Main Street Board will delegate to that committee some (but not all) of the Board’s fundraising duties. Often the Organization Committee is charged with managing annual gifts program for the organization, and events whose sole purpose is raising money. The Board President and Executive Director of every local Main Street organization would be wise to have a conversation with each Board member rotating off the Board at the next annual meeting, well in advance of that date, to discuss how they wish to continue their involvement with the organization in the coming year.

Most of your “retiring” Board members have already established relationships with other Board members and sometimes elected officials created over the years. Many “retiring” Board members, if asked to take on small, discrete assignments, may be more than willing to help the organization if a sincere pitch is made by the Board President.

Good fundraisers make it look easy

Good fundraisers who are going off the Board are especially important people to cultivate before their term is done. Each local program has a small handful of these people. They are the ones that seem to be able to make a compelling case for Main Street support to virtually anyone. Whether these folks are master sponsorship solicitors, expert at fundraising ticket sales or highly skilled at membership renewals, they are, in many ways, priceless to a local Main Street organization. Fundraising is a skill that can be learned, but it takes time.

If skilled fundraisers are about to rotate off your board, take heed. Unless there are equally competent and willing fundraising volunteers following them, make a lunch date several months in advance of your annual meeting to discuss future projects with these star but “retiring” fundraisers.

Co-chairs are learning opportunities

Perhaps the best role that your retiring star fundraisers can take is as a mentor or coach for new volunteers. I hope that you have used a co-chair system for major projects such as fundraising events or annual gift renewals. Co-chairs are an excellent method for the new co-chair to learn all they can from the veteran committee member. Co-chairs can also pass along institutional knowledge as well as specific tools and methods about events and activities from one volunteer leader to another. If you have not used this method, then perhaps your retiring start fundraiser can take on a coaching role for the new committee chair or event chair to pass along what they know to a new leader.

Coaching brings out the best

Coaching is also an appropriate and limited time role for a former Board member. Their expertise is brought in on an “as needed” basis, or in an oversight capacity. They are not expected to run the event or annual gifts renewal campaign for example. Perhaps they can be persuaded to contact the high-end donors whom they know personally to ask for their continued gift to the organization. Or they can offer their expertise on the mechanics of the auction check out, or vendor booth sales for your fall festival, if that has been their experience with your organization. But by all means, ask these Board members to help if you need them, even if the time they can give you is limited.

More ideas coming

These four blog posts discuss how to continue to involve former Board members in a local Main Street organization when their term has ended. These posts have focused on creating individual assignments for specific Board members dependent on their talents and time available. In our final blog post we will talk about setting up formalized committees to use former Board member for the benefit of the organization.

This information was developed for a training workshop called “Keeping Former Board Members Involved When their Term is Done.” Please contact us if you wish to know more about this session. Look for the last post later this week.