Easier Said Than Done: Death by Committee
And if it’s hard on quality, it’s death to innovation. The less familiar something is, the more a committee attacks. Fear of the unknown grows into “Lord of the Flies” groupthink; and you can kiss innovation goodbye.
The weird thing is, nearly everyone knows that a committee is a terrible way to produce good work. Yet they live on, doing damage every day.
How can we make it better?
With a generational change about to sweep in a new crop of more demanding donors, you’ll need exceptional work and box-busting innovation.
If you have the power to do so, ban the fundraising review committee. Replace it with two or three people who have specific and relevant expertise. Limit their authority to their areas of competence. And make sure these same people are held responsible for fundraising results. That will keep them focused and realistic.
But if you don’t have that power and are yourself just another face on the committee, you can make things better. You could resign from the committee. On a raw numbers basis, that might be good. But I have a feeling your committee would be even worse off without you.
Instead of giving up, try these three things:
- Limit your comments. Hold your tongue and suggest changes only when you are squarely within your expertise and you have facts to back you up.
- Work to enlighten fellow committee members. Bring in documentation from the experts. Build the case for fact-based judgment over opinion-based judgment.
- Advocate restraint. You might be able to impact your committee’s culture and make it less destructive. Your fellow members likely are open to becoming a different kind of group for the good of your organization.
I know: That’s all much easier said than done. As long as the committee exists, it will behave as a committee. But the fundraising world needs fast, strong and intelligent horses as we face the challenges ahead. The committee as we know it isn’t going to give us that.