Connecting With Your Board Members’ Corporate Network

At our October 12, 2017 learning@lunch session held at the Seattle campus of City University, Joy Stephens (CGN Founder), Alex Kyger (Seattle Opera) and Ryan Hicks, (Seattle Symphony) discussed ways in which nonprofits could motivate their boards to introduce the development team to their network – especially their corporate contacts.

What can we do to prepare all of our board members to be strong, positive ambassadors of our nonprofits?

  • Make sure they know your nonprofit inside and out so that they can articulate the needs of the nonprofit and the positive effects the nonprofit is making in the community
  • Having a business card is a huge plus
  • Have printed marketing material for them to distribute and hand out is valuable

Make it as easy as possible for your board members

  • Maintain a good, up-to- date website and an active, engaging social media platform
  • Send your board members a proposal template with a cover letter, as well as bullet points of what you would like them to cover in their proposition emails
  • Maintain an ongoing prospect list and be sure to make it easy for the board to access
  • Make your board members aware of “no ask” follow-up opportunities. These would be things like upcoming events that their contacts could attend.

Build trust with your board

  • It is imperative that you build rapport with your board members enabling them to get to know you and that you are a professional. When given a lead, thank the board member, follow up with the prospect then report back to the board member informing him/her that you have made contact. After receiving the financial gift, report back to the board member again, thanking him/her and outline the results. As a side note, if you are unable to close the deal, let the board member know with an explanation of why the lead was not the best fit.

Although there are many strategies and nuances to cultivating an active, effective nonprofit board, this is a great place to start.