Thinking of buying a Mini SUV? Suddenly you see them everywhere. Getting married? SO many must-haves! Taking up ballroom dancing? Posters for dances suddenly abound.

Believe me–the cars, wedding info and dance clubs have always been there – NOW you notice and perhaps even get a bit overwhelmed! Do you really need a $90 wedding cake server?

Maybe you do. The point is that stuff comes into our universe throughout our lives because something happens that pulls us in. Car breaks, proposal, hot dance partner sighting (just saying).

Your Board can be your biggest PULL to get others to notice you exist, and then want to get to know you better, NOW!

So let’s talk about Boards – Marcy Style – and in 4 Parts.

Today – PART II Board Bonanza – Creating a Joyful Giver

Last time – Building Trust to Begin (See previous blog post-scroll down)

Next Time – Giving their own gift and helping make an Artful Ask

And Finally – The Power of a Genuine Board Thank you and other shows of appreciation

Why do I say Board Bonanza? A bonanza is defined as a situation or event that creates a sudden increase in wealth, good fortune, or profits.

Your board, properly inspired, can create a relationship bonanza for your mission!

Together – development staff and Board members can take these actions to Create Joyful Givers – engagement is a team sport!


Your Board members are concerned (even fearful) about what EXACTLY will happen to someone they suggest get involved. And that fear is real – there are some awful, pushy, salesy, fundraisers out there. Make sure your words reassure them YOU will be thoughtful and not “hit them up for money” on the first visit.

II. Ask this question, “What steps/actions/people/experiences/ information would help deepen the relationship of a prospective giver with us? Reflect. Have a conversation with Board members around what would be meaningful actions for them to take with a prospective giver – or meaningful actions to share with anyone, anytime, anywhere.

III. Next Step – Where are we beginning with this relationship?

  1. Have your prospective major givers even heard of you? (Of course, everyone knows you – you have a website and Facebook page after all) Don’t assume what they know about you. (and that goes for your Board members, too!)
  2. Are these prospective major givers on the fringes, but have never really been fully brought into the inner circle of what you do?
  3. Are they long-time friends but on “auto-relationship” and need to be stirred up?
  4. If you were the person you were going to talk to about your organization, how would you want that experience to feel and be?

IV. Get very CLEAR on “Exactly WHAT, as a Board member, do I DO?”

  1. Help Board members get very clear on WHY they serve. This is NOT the mission statement. In a client board training I did with a school foundation a board member said, “Everyone deserves a good education.” Well, sure. When I pressed her why THIS board (she’d be a bonus on ANY board) she teared-up and shared, “My son’s 4th grade teacher had such an impact on him. It meant the world to me.” That’s what I mean by clarity on your, “why.” Sharing that experience would immediately connect this board member with anyone from a TOTALLY different place than, “Everyone deserves a good education.”
  2. Help Board pick specific actions that fit THEM – their time, personality and skills. (Thankfully, we are all different.)

Here is an excerpt from a worksheet I use with board members. I tailor it for each board to put in specific steps that make sense for the organization I am working with. I always have blank lines for them to add THEIR ideas on what would be meaningful. They come up with GREAT ideas!


V. Share activity at Board meetings.

Make sure each and every board meeting has 20 minutes set aside for Board members to share their interactions on behalf of artful relationship management. We tend to just report NUMBERS…YUCK! It needs to be THEIR show and THEIR stories. It will start slow and can actually grow to be a significant part of the Board member’s excitement for being at the board meeting! Of course, this is all also recorded in your prospect data base.

Your Board – they really can be your BEST partners and development colleagues. Hit reply and let me know how this is working for you, what your biggest challenges are with your board and how I can help!

Invest in JOY®



Marcy Heim is a trusted authority in the development profession and helps organizations and educational institutions boost their major gift programs through artful, long-term relationship building that dramatically increases fundraising success while promoting increased staff job satisfaction. To receive a free chapter from Marcy’s book, Empower Your Board to Serve as Effective Development Ambassadors, click here.

Questions:  Contact KK Konicek at



Part 1- If only my Board would help

by Marcy Heim on March 23, 2018

I get an earful about Boards.

You may feel it’s going pretty well with your Board or you may not even be a part of the Board meetings (sigh).

You may be pleased with the contributions they are making – of time and dollars – or be ready to “pass the hat” and go for $5 bucks just to get to “100% Participation” for your grant application.(sigh)

I’ll take the stage to talk about this topic twice next month at AFP ICON and NAYDO. Both are in New Orleans so I’ll be there 10 days! WoHOO – Bourbon Street and Music here I come!

So let’s talk about Boards – Marcy Style and in 4 Parts.

Today – Building Trust to Begin 

Next Time – Board Bonanza – Creating a Joyful Giver

Next Time – Giving themselves and helping Make the Ask

And Finally – The Power of a Genuine Board Thank you and other shows of appreciation

You can’t do this alone. 

Raise enough money for your mission, that is.  And even if you are doing a pretty good job of it now, it’s a fraction of what COULD be raised if you had help.

And right on the top of the list to help is your Board.  After all, isn’t raising money part of each board members’ responsibilities? Yet it often feels like pulling teeth for them to give you names, get you in the door, or ask for the gift.

The thing is, our Board members and other volunteers, too for that fact, have to be INSPIRED TO INVEST!  Ideally, they are on the board because they believe in your mission, but sometimes they just want to add that line to their “community service” accolades, or their buddy sort of conned them into it saying it would be an easy tour of duty.  Or perhaps, you very strategically got them on your board because they have MAJOR CAPACITY but you are not as clear about how they align with your work.

Frankly, none of these folks are going to be much help until you foster a deep understanding of the impact you create and the role giving plays in you getting the job done.  Then you need to help them understand just how we artfully create, foster and maintain major giving relationships.

You see to even get into the Cycle you must have ‘Shared values and interests.’

So no wonder most board members find requests to open their electronic “rolodex” offensive.  Do the people they know share their values and interests in your mission?  Well, they might, or they might not. And is your Board member even engaged enough to know if THEY share the values and interests of the organization?

Step one is to find out. This may involve having a private conversation between you, the Board president and each board member to find out the level of knowledge in what you do and how interested they really are.  As you gain clarity with your board members, it is an easier next step to suggest that their friends may well share their values and interests.  After all…people like people like themselves. The best relationships grow from people who have things ‘in common.’

Now sometimes we don’t really know.  If we can help our board member understand that this can be grown over time, they will be more likely to start the conversation with you.

All judgment – real or perceived – on their friends must be removed. These beginning conversations are simply to see it there is a fit beyond, “She’s got money!”  Board members can feel pressured to bring “good names” to the table. It may be embarrassing if their friend is not interested. Yet if you never have a conversation, how do you know?

So, “Who do you think might share your values and interests in the work we do so we can sit down with and see if it’s a fit?” is the place to start. It could be the beginning of a genuine connection to you that leads to a wonderful gift. If the conversation produces a “not really my passion” answer, that is fine – no judgment on the board member or prospective giver. Leave the door open for this to change in the future, but for now, move on to the next idea.

It is all about trust….do they trust what you will do with the names you give them? If they hear you talk about “getting others to give” how does that make them feel? Even the “old boys club” is growing tired of “Let’s get into their wallet.”  All this sort of talk makes them wonder what you say about them behind their backs.

When we use language that is respectful and genuine we grow trust and confidence in the noble mission of raising money to do our good work.  The focus is on the donor and what will bring them joy – not on your organization and how the Board member can help you “hit them up.” Take a hard listen in your next few conversations with your board members – what is the language used?

This whole process also helps board members understand why Bill Gates and Oprah may not be on the list.  Just saying.

Genuinely respect your board, even if their beliefs are not yours. Be transparent with them about how you will artfully approach someone they suggest. Report back how the conversation went and celebrate those who are interested in deepening the relationship with you.

Now you are on to Creating a Joyful Giver! Thank you for taking your board on this journey with me.

Invest in JOY®



Marcy Heim is a trusted authority in the development profession and helps organizations and educational institutions boost their major gift programs through artful, long-term relationship building that dramatically increases fundraising success while promoting increased staff job satisfaction. To receive a free chapter from Marcy’s book, Empower Your Board to Serve as Effective Development Ambassadors, click here.

Questions:  Contact KK Konicek at



Face-to-Face for the First Time-Do’s and Don’ts

March 7, 2018

You got the appointment! WoHoo! First time Face-to-Face visits are huge in creating the deeper engagement and giving that you want to inspire. They can be scary too. You want to make a good impression, discover more about your prospective major giver, but not be “too much.” Let’s make this the beginning of a LONG […]

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Five Tips to Handle Scandals

February 22, 2018

May you never need this… Remember…”I CREATE MY LIFE!” Right? We do. We must take responsibility for our choices. But, we don’t always make the best choices. Notice I’m putting everyone in this picture. In my 30 plus years in advancement leadership and coaching, I’ve experienced inappropriate photos of elderly residents on Facebook, fraud accusations […]

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Why I Love you this Valentines Day

February 12, 2018

WHY I love you this Valentine’s Day! You embrace each day with JOY! You know that your one kind act to another person (even if no one else knows you did it) is more powerful than all the attention-seeking rants on social media demanding others to live differently. Your smile and kindness are making a […]

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You are Enough!

January 31, 2018

Fretting over all there is to do is not helpful. But THERE IS SO MUCH TO DO! Turnover in our profession is at an all-time high. During campaign feasibility studies I like to ask, “How could we serve our very important donors, like you, better?” Too often I hear, “I don’t even bother to learn […]

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Optimistic Reaction

January 11, 2018

How about these “resolutions”? 1. Give thanks that your life is exactly as it is. 2. Decide that 2018 will be the happiest year of your life yet. 3. Every day, follow your heart and instincts down new paths.   What will the New Year bring? Development plan in full swing? Digging into the year-end […]

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Going into the New Year

December 28, 2017

It’s time for you to make time to stare into space – rest and reboot!   1. Make decisions quickly and take action. Successful people decide and DO. Make a decision. You can always make another decision. And the more you make the better you get at making great ones. Take action! Past donors in […]

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Dial Down the Drama! Dial Up Your Success!

December 14, 2017

Samantha Poremba, (with me in the photo) was an inspiration! She said, “In my large family the message was, ‘Be a thumb (pointing at yourself to take responsibility), not a finger (pointing at somebody else)!’” Love It! Be a Thumb, not a Finger! It underscores the dramatic shift we make in our fundraising and life […]

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Relationship Plans – December and Beyond

November 24, 2017

“I am a one-person development team and this (relationship-action plan) helped me with basic ideas that are doable in my fundraising plan.  I want to work with as many donors as possible, but I need to act on those with the highest capacity and interest. Thank you!”  -Lynette Many of the 650+ folks who joined […]

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