February 1, 2017 at 6:59 am #10742
Development Committees: The Agony and the Ecstasy
What makes a good development committee? Do you have clarity on the role of both volunteers and staff? How often do you meet? Who sets the agenda? Who runs the meeting? What happens between meetings? A good committee should help you, not hold you back. We’re still early in the year, so it’s a great time to review how functional your committee is (or to build one if you don’t have one yet).
Let us know a bit about how your committee functions, and what challenges you face. What’s working/not working? Let’s share best practices, and offer advice to those who are struggling.February 3, 2017 at 4:35 pm #10748
I have struggled with this with many of my clients, mostly small organizations with smallish boards. They say that they do not have the bandwidth for more than the basic committees- Finance, Nominating/Governance, Executive. But in my experience, devoting time and attention to developing a culture of philanthropy warrants a Development Committee. Thoughts?February 3, 2017 at 9:41 pm #10749
It depends how small is small. I have seen organizations with 5 board members and some with 24. Your development committee doesn’t necessarily have to be made up of board members. Recruit from outside.February 4, 2017 at 8:49 pm #10750
For boards who do not consider the Development Committee basic, I would challenge this assumption. There is nothing more basic than assuring the organization has the finances to fulfill its mission. It’s like the third leg of a 3-legged stool: (1) Finance; (2) Programs; (3) Development. The former sets the budget and determines how the money is invested/spent; the second uses the money to actualize the work, and the third secures the contribution income needed to balance the budget. If there aren’t enough people to populate these committees, I absolutely agree with thezim that you can bring in members (e.g. donors) from the outside. It’s a good testing/proving ground for future board membership. The other thing you might consider is making the entire board also the “development committee.” No board member should be let off the hook when it comes to the responsibility to fundraise (as an ambassador, advocate and/or asker).March 20, 2017 at 3:30 am #10851
Does anyone have any best practices on how to organize a development committee that will basically need to be the development department for the organization? I volunteer for a small non-profit that has one paid staff member (the founder and CEO, and he is paid very little) who manages the day-to-day operations and programs. He and others “do fundraising”, but I wouldn’t say the organization currently has a development department. I’ve been advising and trying to help this non-profit since I think it has a lot of potential and has wonderful programs that meet a need in the community. The goal is to hire a development director when there’s enough funds, but for now we need to rely on the CEO and volunteers. I am the only volunteer with fund development experience, so I’m the one who will be organizing and training the development committee. There will be some board members on the committee, but as a whole the board hasn’t been doing a good job with their fundraising duties. I’d appreciate any advice.March 21, 2017 at 8:44 am #10855
You’ve asked a huge question psmnj. You sound very small, so I would guess your board is not that large. Could the board not serve as a “development committee of the whole?” I’m a firm believer in not letting any board member off the hook when it comes to embracing their individual responsibility to assure that the financing is available to enact the plan, programs and budget they approved acting in their governance and fiduciary role as the “board as a whole.” I’d really want to start with getting your board “on board” with fundraising. If they won’t lead, why should others follow?March 23, 2017 at 3:39 am #10862
Thanks for your input. I agree with you about the board. There are a couple newer board members that are taking their fundraising responsibilities seriously, but the rest are not. Some of it is a board training issue, but there are also a few people that shouldn’t be board members.