How to Use Brain Trusts To Grow & Deepen Your Community of Supporters


In this episode, I dive into the concept of a Brain Trust—a facilitated gathering that leverages the expertise of advisors and thinkers to tackle specific organizational challenges. Imagine convening your “dream team” of advisors and strategic thought partners, all focused on solving a real, tangible problem your nonprofit faces. It’s not just about sharing ideas; it’s about action-oriented problem-solving that’s grounded in real-world issues.

I’ll guide you through why Brain Trusts are a simple yet powerful tool for your leadership toolkit, covering their benefits across cultivation, stewardship, and network expansion. You’ll learn how these gatherings can deepen engagement with your board members, foster intimate connections with potential donors, and broaden your network with invaluable insights.

Here’s what you’ll learn:

  • The Essence of a Brain Trust: Understanding its structure and how it fosters action-oriented problem-solving.
  • Why It’s a Game-Changer: The impact of Brain Trusts on donor cultivation, stakeholder engagement, and network building.
  • Setting Up for Success: A step-by-step guide to hosting your own Brain Trust, from identifying your challenge to engaging the right mix of participants.

Five Key Takeaways:

  1. Brain Trusts center on solving specific, real-world challenges through collaborative expertise.
  2. They are a potent tool for engaging potential and existing supporters, creating a sense of insider intimacy.
  3. Diverse perspectives enrich the problem-solving process, bringing creative and strategic insights to the forefront.
  4. Strategic planning and participant selection are crucial for the success of a Brain Trust.
  5. Follow-up is key to maintain engagement and momentum post-event.

Steps to Hosting a Brain Trust:

  1. Identify the Challenge: Focus on specific, actionable topics.
  2. Curate Your Participants: Aim for a diverse group of 6-8 advisors.
  3. Plan the Agenda: Structure the session for productive discussion.
  4. Facilitate Engagement: Encourage active participation and idea sharing.
  5. Follow Up: Keep participants updated and engaged with progress.

Resources Mentioned:

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