Non-profits put together lots of different committees to help with fundraising. Many organizations have a development committee on the board that helps with raising funds. Other non-profits use a fundraising committee to help raise money for their gala event or annual golf tournament. Many schools have alumni fundraising committees, and some churches have stewardship committees to help with raising money.
No matter how you use fundraising committees at your non-profit, they can play an integral role in the success of your development program. Putting together a committed group of people who care about your mission and who are willing to help you raise money is a smart move that allows you to leverage your network to help fund your work.
During my career, I have worked with hundreds of fundraising committees… some of them were very successful, others not so much. I’ve learned that there are certain things that you, as a fundraiser, can do to help ensure the success of the people who agree to help you raise money for your non-profit. Here are four great ways to supercharge your organization’s next fundraising committee:
#1: Make Your Objectives Clear
One of the most common reasons why a fundraising committee doesn’t succeed is because it lacks clear objectives. If you want your committee to be effective, you need to make sure that each member is clear on your common goals.
First and foremost, your volunteers need to understand that they are joining a fundraising committee… this means that their goal is primarily to help you bring in funds. This may seem obvious, but many non-profits put together event committees and task the members with setting up and cleaning up for the event, designing flower arrangements, and planning the menu. These same organizations then wonder why the committee isn’t selling more tickets or finding more sponsors.
There’s nothing wrong with setting up a committee to help with the logistics of your event. If, instead of logistics, you want your committee to raise money, you need to make that clear. Take the other tasks off of their plate, and give them the tools they need to raise money. Similarly, if you are setting up a development committee or fundraising committee on your board, make it clear that you need help with identifying new donors, making thank you calls, and coming to cultivation events… and not just with overseeing your fundraising planning each year.
#2: Offer Your Fundraising Committee Multiple Avenues for Success
If you want your fundraising committee to succeed, you need to offer the members multiple avenues (or fundraising channels) for accomplishing the objectives you have laid out for them.
For example, the committee working on your fundraising event can find sponsors (for those who have higher-capacity networks), sell tickets (for those who know lots of people and the mid- and low-dollar donor levels), and solicit items for the silent auction (for those who are willing to call businesses to ask for donations).
Likewise, you can ask your board’s development committee members to choose between helping bring their contacts to a non-ask event (to assist you with finding new donors), setting up lunches for your staff with high-net worth friends and colleagues, and making thank you calls to donors on a monthly basis.
No matter what fundraising channels you have available at your non-profit, the only way your fundraising committee members will know about them is if you tell them all of the different ways they can help. My suggestion is to provide a menu to your members showing all of the many ways they can make an impact in your fundraising program.
#3: Provide Materials and Training to Your Committee
Your fundraising committee members want to help… they want to be successful. But often, they’re not quite sure about how to go about the tasks you have asked them to complete.
For example, if you have asked your event committee members to find sponsors, they may not be sure about what to say, or what types of materials to put in front of their colleagues who may want to sponsor your event. Similarly, you may want your board development committee to invite people to your open house, but the members may not be clear on how to phrase such an invitation.
As a fundraiser, one of the best things you can do to help ensure the success of all of your fundraising committees is to provide them with training on how to accomplish the tasks you have given them, as well as the materials and support they need to carry out those tasks.
#4: Communicate with Your Fundraising Committee Often
Your fundraising committee is not a “set it and forget it” development strategy. I’ve seen dozens of non-profits set up committees for events, reunions, campaigns and board fundraising work and then seemingly forget about those committees… only to come back three or four months later to find out almost no fundraising progress had been made. Don’t make this mistake.
To be successful, your staff will need to be in constant contact with your fundraising committees. This means regular meetings, weekly or biweekly e-mail updates, and personal check-ins with members to see how your team can be supporting the committee’s work. Don’t just launch a fundraising committee and wait to see what happens. Offer support and motivation, and make sure that your committee members feel like an important part of your fundraising team.
Photo Credit: Cydcor
Mary Pat Boron says
Joe, Thanks for these really good tips!