Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Are You Putting Your Nonprofit Board on Your Cereal Box?

We all know that boards are vital to nonprofit sustainability. But what to do with board members who are shy about fundraising? As part of your organization's training program for these members, take a note from food marketers, and put them on your cereal box.

Cornell University Food and Brand Lab recently published a study explaining how cereal marketers use eye contact to compel purchases. Basically, they found that children and adults alike are more likely to choose a product in packaging that includes figures that make eye contact with the shopper. It works for Count Chocula and it can work for your nonprofit.

Start by considering how your potential donors 'shop' for a cause. In this case, they probably want (need) to hear personal stories of what the organization does, and why it's worth supporting. This is where the cereal box concept comes in. What's the packaging you use to convince those potential donors (PDs)?


The power of eye contact compels you.

In this case, it's possibly a combination of email and in-person contact. Nonprofit employees can use email to make introductions between PDs and board members (even the shyest). This provides a contact for the PD, should they have questions or want to talk to somebody who cares enough about the mission to volunteer a significant amount of time for it. Encourage your shy board member to connect with the PD on various social media sites. If possible, take the board member and PD to lunch together. This is social marketing at its best- building meaningful relationships between donors and organization advocates from the very beginning. The board member can even engage in a little light crowdfunding via their social networks- and the potential donors can try their hand at supporting the organization before committing to large amounts. Chances are good, now that they've looked your board member in the eye, they'll be ready to commit to supporting your cause.