How to Build a Strong Fund Development Committee
The "warm-body" approach to selecting fund development committee members always fails the diversity and strength test. Far too often, organizations will simply accept those individuals expressing interest without first determining who and what they need to best serve the purpose and expectations of their given committee membership.
To build an influential committee, one must be strategic in who they select based upon the needs and visions of the organization. When it comes to choosing members for your fund development committee, this selection process becomes even that much more important. Fundraising is such a critical element of an organization. You should not leave committee membership to whoever decides to raise their hand at a Board meeting.
Below are the steps that I recommend to develop a strong fund development committee membership that will propel your organization's fund development forward most effectively.
1. Ensure that your fund development committee has a job description with outlined expectations.
2. Determine the skills necessary to meet all aspects of that job description and those expectations. Perhaps, you will need individuals who have experience with either major gifts and/or grants and foundations. Use a Committee Composition Matrix to assist you in the process of identifying those individuals currently sitting on your committee who have the skill sets, as well as the deficits that need to be filled. For a Committee Composition Matrix tool, please email me for a sample.
3. Once you have completed the Committee Composition Matrix tool, and you have determined the set of skills still needed to round out your fund development committee, you should reach out to expand your selection. Brainstorm with people in your community who fit those identified skill sets and have a connection to your organization.
I advocate that a fund bevelopment committee should consist of both board members and non-board members. Identifying non-board, prospective members is an excellent opportunity to use these individuals as a "feeder" into future board leadership.
4. Ensure that your chairperson has a job position and expectations outlined. Recruit this person first. Once you recruit the Chair, review the list of possible brainstormed candidates. The chair may have insight as to who is most appropriate for the committee and others who you may not have thought to invite. It is their committee, after all, so you don't want to pre-select without their engagement.
5. Rate and rank committee members according to networks, experience and interest in the mission. Be sure that you have adequate representation for all the skill sets on the Committee Composition Matrix.
6. Once your prospective committee member list has been rated and ranked, then begin securing your "top" prospective members. Don't just invite. Interview them. Ensure that they are a good fit, have the needed skills and are willing to use them on behalf of the organization. And, be sure that they have the time to commit to committee membership and expectations.
Very rarely does the "warm-body" approach to selecting committee members ever work. You end up with either an uninterested or weak committee because you were not thoughtful and selective in the process. Fund development deserves full attention as the primary revenue stream of many organizations. Selection of the best candidates should not be left to chance.
Robin Cabral is “Hire a CFRE!” the one and only outsourced development professional with close to 25 years experience providing value-added consulting services with razor-sharp monthly result objectives and benchmarked deliverables.
She works with mid-sized nonprofits that want to position themselves to build capacity and generate more fundraising prospects, better donor relationships, and bigger fundraising dollars. She specializes in providing outsourced, interim development services and assisting smaller organizations in their first campaigns (annual, capital, and endowment).
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