As a fundraising professional, you should be getting fundraising and leadership training annually. But I’ve heard that the average development professional stays in their position for 18 months. Since the downturn of 2008 that might be a little longer.
In any case, your board and your volunteers will be with your organization longer than you. Much longer. So it only makes sense to help them learn the best practices in the field: both fundraising related and mission related.
If you don’t yet do regular training for your board members and volunteers, be prepared for some resistance. They may have to take days off from work to go away to a conference. But as you invest in them, they will become more committed to your cause and invest more into it themselves.
Here are some things you can do to get the most bang for your training buck:
Hire a consultant or fundraising coach
If you can hire a consultant or coach to come to do a board training, why not make part of that training in the evening with your board, after most people get out of work. (Remember, even if 5 p.m. is the end of the day for you and your board, your board members will have to travel to you. If you’re in a suburb and most of your leaders are in the city, make sure the timing of your evening session allows for the commute.)
Include trainings in board meetings
Another idea is to include some training in each board meeting. Just make it a standing agenda item. It need take no more than 10 minutes, but you can use that to highlight fundraising or even invite staff members in to talk about the nonprofit’s work. MovieMondaysVideos.com from 501 Videos are great for this as is my Ask Without Fear! DVD.
Use fundraising training videos and DVDs
Or you could use videos those from 501Videos (creators of the popular “Movie Mondays” free videos for fundraisers). They send out free movies every Monday and also have DVDs you can purchase. (To sign up for the free movies, go to MovieMondaysVideos.com. Or check out the “Top 10 Best Movies for Helping Board Members” DVD.)
Assign summer reading
If your group is a group of readers, you could even assign a book so that everyone is learning from the same source. There are many good books available. Emerson & Church publishes books that are very readable. And my own Ask Without Fear!® was written with board members in mind. I even offer a discount when buying for your board.
Hold a board retreat
Investments you make in the board could well be the biggest legacy you leave your nonprofit. After all, board members and volunteers will be there far longer than you will!