Posts Tagged ‘Kay Sprinkel Grace’

In the board room with Walker and Grace: Part II

Last week we provided you with the first installment of blended observations about what makes an effective board in light of two recent Page to Practice™ book features.

This week, we continue with compiling advice from two expert authors, Julia Walker (A Fundraising Guide for Nonprofit Board Members) and Kay Sprinkel Grace (The Ultimate Board Member’s Book).

Fundraising with boards

Both acknowledge the longstanding difficulty in engaging board members in fundraising. For most members, like all people, asking for money does not come naturally, but the authors both stress the necessity for all board members to be integrally involved because of their shared fiduciary responsibilities.

Board members have too much valuable information and can preach the mission better than anyone. So, even if you only have a few who can make the actual ask, the others have a variety of ways to get involved.

Walker gives an extensive chart on these tasks, including cultivating prospects, leading efforts in stewardship, communicating, etc. Grace addresses Walker’s chart of tasks in three categories of involvement (3 A’s): ambassador, advocate and asker. Both authors agree the most effective way to train board members in fundraising is to pair them up with staff and experienced askers.

Two studies on donor motivation—the importance of boards

In Walker’s book, she references a study that found high-end donors’ motivations for giving lie in their feelings (making a difference and feeling financially secure) and the efficiency of the organization.

In Grace’s book, she references a study that found high-end donors must respect the organization’s leadership to donate.

If the studies reference leadership and efficiency, the board should epitomize both to donors. The board is the only entity within the organization that can ensure these qualities.

The message from both experts is explicit—the board is the leadership in the organization and as such, must be the body that adheres to the mission in every way financially. The authors challenge boards to a higher calling and a serious, comprehensive understanding of fiduciary responsibility. No small task, but one that can make or break your organization’s mission impact.

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Go from mediocre to maximum board performance

Because so much of what board members do as a group is behind the scenes, we often forget the supremely important role they play in governing our nonprofits. Boards are a tricky aspect of leadership when you’re the executive director or CEO. When your board is ineffective, you have to succeed in spite of its mediocre performance. When your board is exceptional, it can multiply your efforts tenfold. Ironically in either case, the board still oversees your organization. However, with Kay Grace’s Ultimate Board Member’s Book guidelines, you can have an impact on whether your board is a help or hindrance.

Last week, in our live interview with Kay Sprinkel Grace, a participant asked “How do you ensure that a board is as equally concerned with fundraising as they are with governance?”

Define boundaries

Grace answered this question beautifully by addressing the importance of defining roles for a board member. “Too often I see board members drift into management areas rather than governance or fundraising, creating conflict with the staff,” says Grace. It’s up to the board development committee (see Grace’s discussion on this committee) to explain what the boundaries are when someone is recruited and trained. In other words, “This is your job as a board member and this is the management team’s job…” says Grace.

Keep them inspired

Secondly, keeping board members on task with governance and fundraising is a matter of keeping them inspired. Mission-level work and policy setting are heady tasks, and without any inspiration, it’s easy to see why some members float into undesignated areas. “Board members join you because they care about your organization or feel a connection with someone they respect on the board,” Kay adds. It’s up to you to keep them inspired so they feel invigorated to raise funds as well as focus on governance, policy setting, or budgeting.

Mission moments

If instead, you dazzle them during their recruitment process and leave them to the business of governing without regularly bolstering them with “mission moments,” you’re asking the board member to find their own inspiration. Left to themselves, they’ll gravitate toward the familiar, which are usually management matters. Mission moments are simply a time during the meetings when important mission-related anecdotal information is shared to inspire and motivate, says Grace.

Get them comfortable with the task of fundraising

Another surefire way of driving your board members to find tasks outside of their job description is to shoulder them with fundraising without any input. Without any say in how they are involved in development, some board members will identify another focus that isn’t necessarily helpful to the board objectives.

AAA fundraising

Kay Sprinkel Grace introduces a terrific way for addressing every level of comfort and expertise with fundraising at the board level in her book, The AAA Way to Fundraising Success. The process begins with asking your board to choose from three different roles in fundraising: 1) Ambassador, 2) Advocate, and 3) Asker. Then you spread the choices your board members have made on a matrix and develop a plan based on who will ask, advocate or serve as ambassador. “Because board members have chosen the role they want to play, their willingness to fulfill the identified role is amazing,” says Grace. Grace’s number one rule in this AAA program is that everyone is at least an ambassador.

What results from defining roles, keeping members inspired and implementing this AAA process is a board that is equally confident with raising money as they are with governing the organization.

See also:

The AAA Way to Fundraising Success

The Ultimate Board Member’s Book

The Nonprofit Leadership Team

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Get better fundraising results from your board

We’ve all been there. And if you haven’t been there, you’ve at least heard about someone who’s been there. Yesterday, during our live author interview series with board fundraising expert, Kay Sprinkel Grace, we had a nonprofit leader ask, “What recommendations do you have for getting better fundraising results out of your board?”

Most commonly asked

How to get everyone involved in fundraising is the most common question Grace is asked and this author interview was no exception. In fact, Grace has written a book about her answer to this popular inquiry: The AAA Way to Fundraising Success.

A board fundraising idea is born

The inspiration for Kay’s book was a client she worked with 12 years ago. The nonprofit client said, “I’ve got seven askers on my board.” Grace congratulated her for having seven folks who were willing to step up and make “the ask” on behalf of the nonprofit. Then the client said, “No, I have 39 on my board and only seven askers. What am I going to do with the other 32?”

How it works

This scenario became the brainchild for a management tool that Grace actively uses today. The process begins with asking your board to choose from three different roles in fundraising: 1) Ambassador, 2) Advocate, and 3) Asker. Then you spread the choices your board members have made on a matrix and develop a plan based on who will ask, advocate or serve as ambassador. “Because board members have chosen the role they want to play, their willingness to fulfill the identified role is amazing,” says Grace. Grace’s number one rule in this AAA program is that everyone is at least an ambassador.

Who makes the ask

Grace also impressed upon yesterday’s interview attendees that having a volunteer (advocate) and someone from the programming staff join you or the director of development on the ask proves essential. The program staff can speak specifically and intelligently about how the gift impacts outcomes. The board member (volunteer advocate) can speak from a mission and vision perspective.
More info

More info about Grace’s books

You can find out more about Grace’s AAA program in her book, The AAA Way to Fundraising Success at or her other six books at Grace’s latest book, The Ultimate Board Member’s Book, is currently featured at CausePlanet with a Page to Practice book summary.

See also :

Exposing the Elephants: Creating Exceptional Nonprofits

The Nonprofit Leadership Team: Building the Board – Executive Director Partnership

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Board fundraising: Ask people to act on their values

When I read Kay Grace’s The Ultimate Board Member’s Book, I was reminded of some very gratifying as well as excruciating moments in my service as a nonprofit board member. An example of the less than stellar was, you guessed it, board fundraising. I happened to be on the receiving end of the ask as a board member and was excited to make my commitment. I knew it would make for easier solicitations in the community if I could demonstrate that my personal gift had already been pledged.

I remember the executive director asked me for a stretch gift (stretch for me anyway). The ask was by phone and felt, well, phony. Without the board chair present and without looking into the eyes of the asker to whom my hard-earned dollars would be going, I felt deflated and unappreciated. As soon as I said “yes,” the phone call was quickly ended and she checked me off the list. Or so it seemed. In the defense of this executive director, I’m sure she would have been horrified to know her ask left me feeling that way. Fortunately, for other CEOs and executive directors, Grace’s book addresses a useful process for going about development, fundraising and stewardship of the board and community. I say these three words because Grace has a specific reason for separating each function. I’ve excerpted my interview with Kay below which elaborates on the topic–

CausePlanet: Your section on philanthropy, development and fundraising is excellent, and I like how you break down each component so that everyone has a role to play.

Kay Sprinkel Grace: In my longer work, Beyond Fundraising, I go into detail on this and am happy to do it here.

Imagine three (3) concentric “eggs” or ovals. The largest, which surrounds the two smaller ovals, is philanthropy. Philanthropy is all voluntary action for the public good (Payton, 1989) and includes giving, asking, joining and serving (and for board members, it is NOT multiple choice!). We know through research and experience that all philanthropy is based in values: people and institutions do not give to, ask for, join or serve organizations whose values they don’t share. So, it is critical to create a “culture of philanthropy” in an organization based on the values of the organization.

The second oval is development, which is the process by which we get to know people and institutions and uncover the values we share with them. Development, or relationship building, is the most important role for a board member. It requires using the anatomical ratio of two ears: one mouth–listening more than we speak. If all board members were committed to developing relationships, fundraising would not be a challenge.

The smallest of the ovals is fundraising, which I define as “giving people opportunities to act on their values.” When we know what values donors share with us (and we with them), our conversation around the ask is made easy: “You and I both care deeply about continuing independent living for seniors as long as possible to ensure their sense of dignity. We have been successful at keeping our seniors at home because of the investment of people like you. As we look to the aging of America and the growing number of seniors in our community, we see the need for our services increasing. This year, will you consider increasing your investment in these programs that we both care so deeply about?”

See also:

The Ultimate Board Member’s Book

Beyond Fundraising

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