Webinar Recap: The Light at the End of the Tunnel is Bright! Q&A with Michael Baker

The second webinar of the iWave Nonprofit Thought Leadership Series took place on April 30th with Michael J. Baker from m3 Development. In this session, titled The Light at the End of the Tunnel is Bright!, Michael talked about how to steer your organization for success in these turbulent times. He discussed leadership, contingency planning, crisis management, and opportunities that have come to light despite our current circumstances. 

In case you missed the webinar, you can watch the recording here and we’ve put together some Q&A’s from the session: 


Business As Usual?

Q: As a charity whose impact is not related to the virus – I feel hesitant to fundraise. Should I still ask?  

MB: Yes, you should absolutely ask. Your organization is still relevant, has a reason for needing funding (case for support), is functioning and operating. If you are not asking, you are not fundraising for your mission. Donors will continue to support your organization, remember the number one reason why people don’t give is they were not asked. Go ask and feel good about it. You’re making a difference and also doing your job. Every charity is impacted by the covid-19 pandemic in one way or another.


Q: What are your tips for encouraging your team to continue asking during this time? 

MB: Stick to the basics. Share stories about your mission and how it’s making an impact on lives. Have your key stakeholders (Board, Volunteers, Donors, Staff, etc) get involved in the process if they are not already. Your development plan guides when, how, what method, who’s involved, and the process for fundraising. Stick to your timelines, adjust as needed due to current circumstances, and implement as planned.


Engaging with Your Team Remotely

Q: What can I do to better engage my team in this “new normal”? 

MB: Communicate, communicate, communicate. Set expectations and regularly review progress. If needed, adjust expectations. Be sure to set aside time to talk one-on-one with each team member to get caught up on how they are doing? Are they providing self care for themselves? How is their family? Always ask how you can help. Most importantly be human, genuinely care, be empathetic and provide a safe place for your team members to feel ok to be vulnerable.


Q: Do you have any suggestions for providing any professional development opportunities other than webinars to engage remote/work from home employees?

MB: I always recommend that those involved with directly or indirectly with fundraising become a member of the Association of Fundraising Professionals It is the key to open the door for multiple professional development opportunities from mentoring to career counseling, videos, microlearning, e-courses, online workshops and much more. I’ve been a member since 1999, and still to this day find tremendous value as a member and most importantly in my own continued professional development.


Keeping Communication Going

Q: What are examples of engaging or cultivating the many one-time major gift donors that we are fortunate to be receiving during the crisis? 

MB: The first step is making sure that you thank the donor appropriately. All major gift donors should be looked at individually, a stewardship plan created for each and moves management implemented. Let the major donor share with you if they are interested in continuing the relationship with your organization. In the case where you received a major gift from a “situational based funder” like the NJ Pandemic Relief Fund, know that this funder was set-up for this specific situation and will sunset eventually. 


Q: You talked about staying active on social media, should we be posting non-COVID-19 items on our social media fundraising pages?

MB: Yes you should be posting items about your organization on social media. Social media is all about engagement with your constituents. Share stories of what your organization is doing; how you are continuing to make an impact; use it as a vehicle for effective communication and calls to action.



Q: You had mentioned engaging board members for giving. Do you have any tips or strategies for leveraging board member relationships to drive even more giving?

MB: We could spend a lot of time talking about engaging board members for giving. My advice is to: 

  1. Have 100% Board Giving. The Board Chair and/or President needs to set the expectation for all Board Members to give annually, support events, make major gifts, consider a planned gift and in times of crisis provide as much support as possible.
  2. Have 100% of Board Members asking and/or making introductions to prospective donors. Be ready to get creative if necessary. A few of our clients we are working with Board Members who have/had access to influential celebrities and athletes through Board Members. We crafted very effective crowdfunding campaigns that have raised 5, 6, and 7 figures for organizations.
  3. Report at Board Meetings on the successes, recognize those Board Members who understand their role is to provide wisdom, work, wealth, and be well connected. 
  4. We’ve had clients use the cumulative amount the Board gives as a challenge campaign and also where one Board Member agrees to match gifts up to a certain amount. These are very effective and need to be a time limit established and reported upon completion.
  5. Evaluate annually what each Board Member brings to the organization. The Nominating Committee should have a scorecard for each member and for the Board as a whole. Another softer method is to have the Board conduct a self-evaluation.
  6. Philanthropy (love of humankind) is a value that all Board Members should have. Giving starts at the top, if the Board isn’t giving, why should anyone else. Creating a culture of philanthropy at the Board level and recruiting individuals who possess those qualities needed are paramount to engaging Board Members for an experience that is far greater than one could anticipate. An experience that will have the Board Member so enthusiastic, that they want to share to family, friends, and colleagues about the Board they serve on and how those relationships can be of help.



Watch the recording of Michaels’s webinar here and click here to watch the rest of the webinars in the series or sign up for our upcoming webinars!

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