Few board members wake up in the morning excited to court donors and ask them to give — and give generously, even — to a school. It’s not that people lack passion for their institutions; it’s just that asking for money can be difficult. And when they do make the effort, there’s a feeling that they didn’t do a good job. Hardly a recipe for generating excitement and motivation.

So what can board members, who have a big role to play in development, do to make fundraising more productive and, dare we hope, less onerous?

Back in 2013, In Trust talked with “donor whisperer” Penelope Burk, who literally wrote the book on the leadership’s role in the area of development. It’s called Donor Centered-Leadership: What it Takes to Build a High Performance Fundraising Team. Years of asking people what motivates them to give, and what makes them shy away from giving, makes the interview one worth revisiting. (Click here for the article: “Board members and the art of saying thanks.”)

There’s a lot to know about fundraising. Across institutions, how many donors give year to year? How many donors increase their donations from year to year? What makes a fundraising campaign effective?

While the data is important for understanding how your school is performing, it can be a bit overwhelming. The good news is that Burk has found some easy actions you can take that will have great impact on your development efforts. It all comes down to the personal touch. You’ll be surprised, for example, by the effect that a follow-up thank-you call from a board member has on donor giving and retention!

Check it out, and if you have any tips of your own, be sure to leave a comment.


Card design by Clandestine Press, www.clandestine-press.com