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Engaging Ambassadors

Recognizing Major Donors

Q: How do you keep Ambassadors involved after they bring their ten people (especially if the Ask Event is months away)?

 Janet in Texas

A: A successful Ambassador is someone who has met their goal of hosting a private Point of Entry Event for ten or more people. Some of these Ambassadors may be so engaged and committed that they actually want to host and fill additional private Points of Entry. Others may want to continue their involvement in other ways.

You could ask them to be an Ambassador Manager, someone who provides support to other active Ambassadors in meeting their goal of having at least ten people attend their private Points of Entry. This is a volunteer role that would be a natural next step for someone who was a great Ambassador and who is committed to helping you continue to get the word out about your work.

You can also have your development director or a volunteer from your team go to coffee with the person to thank them for being a great Ambassador, get feedback, and see how else they might want to be involved with your organization, for example volunteering on a committee, advisory board, or board.

Some organizations we work with host Ambassador social events once a year. Here you can recognize everyone who has successfully served as an Ambassador in the prior year and also encourage the people who are working towards that goal.

You can also invite them to join your Benevon sustainable funding team if appropriate!

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Team Leader: You Can Delegate That

The Team Leader has a unique role on the Sustainable Funding Team—to coordinate the team’s efforts, not to do all the work!

The biggest challenge for Team Leaders is to delegate tasks to people who are often higher in the organization’s hierarchy, such as their executive director or esteemed board members. However, as your team meets regularly, people will naturally take on parts of the process that they enjoy.

Here are nine tasks that the Team Leader can delegate to other members of the team.

    • Managing Ambassadors—if you have a team member who has already been a successful Ambassador, engage her in a new role as an Ambassador Manager, helping new Ambassadors get started and ensuring their success.
    • Handling the logistics for the Ask Event or the Point of Entry Events, securing a venue, organizing table rentals, food planning, etc.
    • Planning and executing Free Feel-Good Cultivation Events and ensuring that your Multiple-Year Giving Society donors each make it to one such event each year.
    • Recruiting successful Ambassadors to be Table Captains and supporting/managing these Table Captains prior to the Ask Event.
    • Being the Cultivation Partner for a number of multi-year donors, leading up to a larger Ask.
    • Being the “sizzle police” for the Point of Entry Event—making sure your organization’s tour maintains all of the elements that make it sizzling with facts and emotion, each and every time you hold the event.
    • Making thank-you/invitation calls to donors.
    • Supporting data tracking efforts by being trained and entering data for cultivation contacts with donors.
    • Board members on the team can be accountable for keeping the rest of the board informed and actively engaged in your organization’s implementation of the Benevon Model.

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Should all board members be on our fundraising team?

Ask Benevon: The Ask Event is Not a First Date

Q: We are starting to put together a team to implement the Benevon Model. I am wondering, why wouldn’t all or most board members have team member responsibilities?

Jamie in Washington

A: Not all board members will want to be part of your fundraising team. Many may already be serving on a board committee. Those who are already on your fund development committee would be the natural candidates for serving on your Benevon team.

Having said that, ideally, every board member will serve as an Ambassador at least once, if not once a year. Serving as an Ambassador means hosting and filling one private Point of Entry with ten or more friends and colleagues.

Beyond serving on your Benevon team and being an Ambassador, board members can contribute by making thank-you phone calls to donors and giving money themselves.

We treat board members like donors, and you would never require all of your donors to get involved on your fundraising team—only those who want to.

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Renewing the Passion for Your Mission

Renewing the Passion for Your Mission

Scarcity and resignation, thinking it can’t be done—these are the recurring challenges for anyone committed to big results. To deal with these challenges, you and your team need to be able to readily tap into your genuine passion for the mission of your organization.

And there is definitely no scarcity of passion in the nonprofit world if you know where to look for it.

Almost everyone is originally attracted to a cause or organization because its work is something they feel passionate about. Whether that cause is families, foster care, substance abuse, mental illness, international relief, physical or intellectual disabilities, advocacy, faith, the environment, arts, education, healthcare, animal welfare, housing, or public policy, what attracts each person is almost always a prior personal experience.

Perhaps they have a family member with that particular disability or a close friend who experienced discrimination due to a mental illness. Perhaps they developed a love of the outdoors as a child, or their passion for science dates back to the first time they looked through a microscope in elementary school science class.

But passion can become buried or lost over time. When that happens, how do you get it back?

The Passion Retread Exercise
We do a small group exercise at our workshops that we call the Passion Retread exercise. Working in the nonprofit sector, the tread on the passion tire sometimes wears thin. So we ask each person in the small group to answer these two simple questions:

  • Why do you work or volunteer at this particular organization?
  • What is it about their unique work or mission that inspires you and keeps you engaged?

While some volunteers will say that they want to give back to the community, when we ask them to take a deeper look, many tell us they feel called to do the work of the organization. For them it is an avocation.

Answering these simple questions truthfully, in a small group of dedicated board members, staff, and volunteers, reconnects people to their own passion, to each other, and to the mission of the organization.

I once asked a group of board members from a chapter of the American Lung Association to answer these questions. One of their long-standing board members immediately offered his response. “I know exactly why I’m here,” he said. “When my son, Adam, was eight years old, he died in my arms while having an asthma attack. I vowed in that moment to give my life to doing whatever I could to find a cure for childhood asthma so that no other parent would ever have to experience such a tragic and painful loss.”

Before you embark on implementing the Benevon Model for Sustainable Funding, do this exercise with your entire team:

  • Ask each person to look more deeply at their own reasons for being involved with the organization.
  • Then give them the time to share their answer to this question with the rest of the group.

It will focus each team member on their unique connection to the mission of the organization and add new tread to their passion. It will bond you as a team and sustain you as you move forward.

A tip: this exercise also works well when done with long-standing board members, volunteers, and staff.