Episode 14 | Fundraising FREEDOM Step 3: Enlist Your Team


This is the step that changes everything.  It’s how you go from raising thousands of dollars to hundreds of thousands of dollars to millions and so on.  This is the meat of the entire Fundraising FREEDOM process. 

Tell us about how to shift your mindset to know there are people who want to give to your cause.

When you first get started, you don’t know anyone because you’ve never talked to anyone to giving to your cause.  As you’re getting going, now is the time to start thinking about how you want to form that conversation.  How do you want to talk to people about your cause?  And how can people be a part of it?  Enlisting your team is all about attracting the right people that correlate to the kinds of dollars you want to raise.  For example, if your goal is to raise $1,000,000 your team is going to look different than if you were planning to raise $10,000.  You don’t have to have a hundred people working toward your cause, it really all starts with one person you believe could open the door to the next person. 

First, I want you to think about the ideal person you want on your team.  Do you want them to be a high-level executive at an organization or company?  Do you want them to be well-connected, a motivator?  It doesn’t matter if your organization is big or small because when we’re talking about enlisting your team, it all depends on your specific criteria for a lead volunteer or the person you want others to follow. 

How do steps 1 and 2 of the FREEDOM process (Focus Your Vision and Run Your Research) factor into this step? 

They are everything.  This is why knowing your vision and running your research happen before this step.  Let’s say you decide to host a black-tie gala based on your research.  You really want to engage a certain population of the community who are currently not a part of what you do.  So, if you’ve done your research, now you’re going to recruit a team that have that same vision.  Or maybe instead of an event, you’re doing a building campaign and you’re planning to raise $3 Million for a building.  Through your research, you determined you want a general contractor or someone in that industry on your team.  You would not recruit that kind of volunteer if you were putting on a walk/run fundraiser.  This is why you have to do your research before you enlist a team so you can make sure your volunteers are the right fit for the plan. 

Once you have identified your list of potential volunteers, how do you make the ask?

Let’s say I’m trying to fill the role of the chairperson.  The first thing I do is start talking to people in the upper leadership of an organization I’ve targeted.  I talk to the volunteers who are serving on the board and in other places and ask them to recommend an ideal person for whatever role I’m looking for.  All I’m doing is asking for verbal nominations.  I put those names on a list and once I start to have those conversations with more and more people, someone starts to bubble to the surface.  There’s always that one person who everyone thinks would be the best.  So then making the ask is so much easier because now I’ve got all their peers making the recommendation.  If you’re sitting across the table from someone who is telling you that all of your peers think that you are the best person for the job, you are going to be much more inclined to say yes. 

However, if you take anything away from today, it’s this.  If you’re sitting across from someone and they immediately say yes with no hesitation, you should probably be concerned.  If you’re asking someone to serve in a strong leadership position, you want them to think about it and take some time to really process what they need to shut down in order to do this job well. 

Now they’ve said yes, what happens now?  How do you get the rest of your team?

After you’ve gotten your key volunteer, they are able to build their team.  A lot of times, as staff members we feel like we have to step in and recruit everyone on the team.  But this is where I want you to shift your thinking.  You must empower your new volunteer(s).  You as staff have a specific role to fulfill and your volunteers also have their specific role.  As a staff person, your job is to know the cause.  You know the mission.  You know the vision.  You know the stats and stories.  However, it is not your job to influence the donor across the table with your buying power.  But, your volunteers should.  Ask your volunteer who they want to work with.  What companies, groups, etc.?  The statistics show that two-thirds of people will say yes to an organization because a friend or family member vouched for it.  You can skip the line because your volunteer trusts you and the other donor or organization trusts your volunteer and therefore, you’re going to get them that much quicker.

Another question I am frequently asked is, “what happens when I run out of contacts?”  That tells me that you either haven’t recruited any volunteers, or you haven’t recruited the right volunteers.  When you have built a team of people who are the right fit for the organization, they each bring to the table their own list of potential recruits.  Once you’ve gotten your one lead volunteer, you can recruit your volunteers off that one lead volunteer. 

We know being a nonprofit executive is a lonely job and we want you to know that you are not alone as you work toward your mission.  If you like the content of the podcast, as well as the work we do, we invite you to join the Nonprofit Executive Club.  The Executive Club is a monthly training program that gives you the ability to increase your influence through strategic planning and fundraising support.  For more information and to join the Club, go to nonprofitexecutiveclub.com.

Resources from this episode:

Strategic Plan Toolkit

Fundraising Freedom Roadmap

Connect with Mary:

Mary Valloni

Mary’s book: Fundraising Freedom

Connect with Joel:

Joel Kessel

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