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Boards tend to prefer overseeing fundraising to raising funds themselves. One of the biggest challenges fundraising executives face is getting board members to help raise money. What’s missing is a specific role in a well-defined process that integrates board members comfortably into the fundraising team.

That role is one that Malcolm Gladwell, author of the best-seller The Tipping Point, terms the connector.

The Connector Role

This is a more narrowly defined, less time-intensive, but more valuable approach to volunteer involvement in fundraising than trying to get board members to solicit gifts.  It is one with great appeal to those who don’t want to attend a lot of meetings or be involved in asking for money. Connectors work in partnership with staff in a process-based major gifts model.

Staff members rarely run in the same social or business circles as wealthy potential donors, but the members of a strong board do. Such board members can connect the development staff with high-potential prospects.

Making this powerful approach work depends on assigning roles as Connectors, Mavens and Closers loosely based on roles identified by Gladwell in his book. The responsibilities of each team member are aligned with the strengths of each in the team-based fundraising effort.

Connectors identify prospects and make introductions that bring potential prospects into the process.

Mavens are the experts who offer credentials and provide knowledge that builds prospect confidence in the organization and credibility for the case.

Closers are responsible for the culmination. Often the Closer role is filled by development professionals, but volunteers who are oriented to asking for gifts can play a role, too, if they wish.

This completes the five-part Steve Reed’s series on Fundraising Performance Improvement. Want to read more? Check out:

Part 1: An Introduction to Fundraising Performance Improvement (FPI)
Part 2: Six Imperatives in Applying Lean Six Sigma Principles to Fundraising (FPI)
Part 3: Breakthrough Cases in Fundraising Performance Improvement (FPI)
Part 4: The Power of Process in Fundraising Performance Improvement (FPI)

Steve Reed lead the session R-04: Hope is Not a Strategy: New Approaches to Fundraising Based on Performance Improvement Principles at AFP Toronto’s Fundraising Day on June 8. He unpacked FPI based on blend of learnings from five organizations, including two in Canada, with fundraising staffs ranging from one FTE to nearly 50.

About Steve Reed

Steve Reed offers 30 years of experience in business development, executive search, fundraising, marketing, performance improvement and strategic planning. His work creating innovation and ideation processes, coupled with 20 years of experience as a fundraising consultant, led to a pioneering application of six sigma and lean principles in fundraising. Reed has planned and directed well over $100 million in campaigns. He has completed executive search assignments, moderated hundreds of consumer focus groups and facilitated numerous board and staff retreats and workshops. His professional memberships reflect a diversity of interests. He holds accreditation from the Public Relations Society of America, is a member of the Counselors Academy, the Healthcare Financial Management Association, the Association of Fundraising Professionals and its Chicago Chapter, the Association for Healthcare Philanthropy, the Society for Healthcare Strategy and Market Development, and the American Marketing Association. Follow Steve Reed on LinkedIn.

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