The Board Steps Up

What do you do if you’re a small non-profits organization with a tiny staff, fighting an uphill battle against an immoral and unjust public policy and you face a budget shortfall?

Well, the tiny and overworked staff could stretch itself even more thinly and focus its efforts on fundraising, making calls and holding events, sending out grant proposal after grant proposal, but then we aren’t able to do the actual work of the organization. Traveling around and meeting folks, starting conversations about the death penalty, and doing the organizing that is going to bring about an end to the death penalty.

So what does TCASK do? Well, TCASK is not just the staff. TCASK is the members, all of you out there that get our email alerts and our newsletter, contribute money, write to your state legislators, show up for vigils, lobby days, and NWFA events, and bring your friends and neighbors into the movement. And TCASK is the Board of Directors, the people responsible for TCASK’s mission.

On Saturday, the board stepped up big time into its role as fundraisers. The board met and each member committed to a number of vital tasks to place TCASK on sound financial footing. A lot of these tasks are things that any board can do, so I wanted to share some of them:

One thing a lot of donors ask is, what percent of your board contribute to the organization. On Saturday our board committed to making the answer, in TCASK’s case, 100%.

The board can be an extremely useful tool in building and maintaining relationships with large donors and the members of the organization. TCASK’s board, as a first step in this regard, will write personal thank you letters to donors to express our appreciation for their support.

And finally, boards raise money. Some organizations have a “give or get” policy for their boards – board members must giver or get x dollars a year. We don’t have such a policy at TCASK, especially because part of our work is reaching out to students and disadvantaged communities and we don’t want to make board leadership out of reach for those folks, but at the meeting, each board member did commit to organizing at least one (and sometimes as many as 3) fundraising events for TCASK is the coming three months. These events include house parties, poker nights, collections, yard sales, bake sales, popcorn and politics nights, poetry readings, and benefit concerts.

Now there are a couple of points I’d like to stress here.

  • These events are fun – fundraising doesn’t have to be a big scary ordeal. Parties, concerts, and poker nights are a fun time for folks.
  • These events are small and manageable – We don’t have to make $10,000 in a night. Small events bringing in $250, $500, or $1000 all start to add up. We expect that from our individual board events, we will raise around $7,000 in the next three months, and that aint chump change.
  • These events do not involve the staff – So we can still work on some of our bigger events, including speaking events for Juan Melendez and Bud Welch as well as non-board member events and donor cultivation.

So think about getting your board involved (if they’re not already) because almost anyone can hold a yard sale or poker night. Lots of college students know local bands to approach for a benefit concert. Everyday folks have churches that might be able to take up a second collection. And as the board gets used to the idea of fundraising, their skills will grow and we may be able to move from events that raise $250 to events that raise $1000. But, when it comes to money, every little bit counts. To put it into perspective, the $7000 that these small events should raise will pay TCASK’s rent for a year and almost 3 months of my salary.

Yep, the board is ready to show me da money!

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