Leadership Roles in the Development Function

David A. Mersky imageThe heart and soul of any nonprofit enterprise is in the development function. Through the work that volunteer leaders and staff do in development, all the relationships—each and every one—of the organization are managed. This article outlines how the roles and responsibilities of the development committee drive the process as well as the specific fundraising roles of staff and the board.

Charge to the Development Committee
The development committee is charged with planning and implementing the organization’s total development program in concert with the organization’s professional staff. The development committee is a standing committee of the board of directors and is staffed by the organization’s professional fundraising staff. The committee serves as the mechanism by which board members and other volunteers are involved in the fundraising process.

The development committee is also tasked with focusing the organization and its board of directors on essential elements in the fundraising process. This includes constant attention to the current strength of the organization’s mission and case for support, the ways in which the organizations makes itself accountable to its constituencies, the involvement of those constituencies with the institution, understanding the resources required to carry out the organization’s mission, preparing plans for soliciting the private funds needed to carry out the organization’s mission, assisting the organization in raising necessary funds, and demonstrating good stewardship of the funds received.

The development committee—ideally made up of board members as well as non-board members—leads the board’s participation in development and fundraising as well as creating and overseeing the implementation of the organization’s development plans.

Remember, the development committee should not have to do all the board’s fundraising; all board members share this crucial responsibility.

Volunteers, while extremely valuable, can only achieve their goals with support from staff. Development requires consistency, organized documentation and a central information clearinghouse to maintain the relationships required of a successful program.

Fundraising Roles for Staff include:

  1. Provides information about the organization
  2. Develops proposals and letters
  3. Provides first draft and coordinates mailing of solicitation letters
  4. Provides follow up to all solicitation calls
  5. Sends reminders and organizes report meetings
  6. Provides information about programs and tax advantages in a solicitation call
  7. Schedules solicitation rehearsals

If you view development as the keystone of the arch of your agency, focus on the right objectives, employ the right metrics, keep score and you maintain a high degree of accountability among everyone in the organization, then anything is within your reach.

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