The Importance of a Fundraising Committee: How to Strategize With Your Staff, Volunteers and Board – Part Two

The person leading a fundraising committee (FC) should have some successful experience, be a team player, a motivator and be open to new ideas. The group must decide how decisions will be made, (consensus, majority, etc,) ahead of time and be consistent. If staff undermine the independence of the committee, and undervalue the efforts of the group, this can decrease morale and engagement. Sometimes a board’s diversity is needed for that very reason, to provide different experiences and viewpoints to the fundraising situation at your organization. If you want to invest in the organization you have to invest in the purpose of the FC.

In a world where friends, family or children are all vying for attention towards a cause they are passionate about, donating time and money becomes a deliberate and cautious decision to make. More people now than ever, are involved or dedicated to an organization or board for a unique set of reasons. If that is not understood and recognized then the organization is missing lost opportunities. Why you, why right now?

Diversifying types of funding should be a goal of the FC because it will reduce the dependency on a single source, since a single source is insufficient in maintaining the organization as a whole. Likewise, a diverse board, open to new ideas will enable a value added and sustainable continuation of services.

Review a fundraising committee description for inspiration, such as this one from METRAC, 2014. It includes a position summary, responsibilities, and qualifications, hours expected, and core competencies. As well, make the position unique to your organization; be open for input and modifications that suit your group’s’ needs.

Elements of a successful Fundraising Committee Plan

  • Fundraising strategic plan (or program logic model) – a map or guideline of why a fundraising committee matters and what can be achieved.
  • Fundraising Pulse Check (see below)
  • Committee Description – vital to identify and build with each group to create a sense of belonging and purpose.
  • Recruit Strategically – there might be friends or neighbors interested in a single initiative
  • Explore Skills share – what assets are at the table, share successes of past fundraisers and how they might make sense today.
  • Set goals and objectives of committee and each initiative
  • Determine roles and responsibilities and leadership.
  • Be critical – avoid groupthink, be proactive and communicate.
  • Develop a Follow-up plan – what does this look like, set up buddy system if the board is new or challenging so the effort is respected and teamwork is supported.
  • Debrief – SWOT analysis, and checkouts should be done within 48 hours of an event or right after a meeting. Parking lot ideas to review them with fresh eyes. The organization should be building on each initiative and learning from past mistakes and recognizing that failing forward is valuable and welcomed.
  • Celebrate success –valuing the contributions should be a cause for celebration! It is not often that someone decides to provide their time, energy, networks and ideas to a single organization just because they believe in its mission.

Fundraising Pulse Check

  • Does your organization have an elevator pitch, or case for support
  • How many types of income does your organization have?
  • What is one new source of income you would like to pursue?
    • What would you need to pursue this?
  • What are your organizational assets?
    • Which specifically can help and how, your fundraising plans?

One of the most challenging elements of an organization is monitoring and evaluating a fundraising strategy. Admitting wrongs or failures is something I see people avoid. They would sooner vent their frustrations about what went wrong and how the organization was wronged, than invest the time and creativity to critically think and problem-solve a better way in the future. Learning from mistakes is not the common dialogue in many groups but is vital.

A step by step fundraising strategy can better organize and invest time, as well as delegate tasks to board members, in order to keep the objectives clear and create a smoother landing opportunity. If members are not engaged in the development of the strategy they might not be engaged in the execution of the strategy, much like how we advocate giving clients and participants a voice and choice as an anti-oppression practice – we must also be willing to give board members that respect.