Chapter 2: What would help your nonprofit raise more money this year? A stronger fundraising and development committee.
The results of my survey are in, and the schedule is set for a year of articles focused on what would help your nonprofit raise more money in 2017. This month, I will focus on how to build a stronger fundraising and development committee.
You may remember a series I wrote a couple of years ago on my experience as the chair of a development committee (and if not you can read it by clicking here). I didn’t speak to the challenges of strengthening the committee, but looking back, I should I have. I was like other development volunteers that lead a committee, I sometimes found it easier to do it myself and then was surprised when people didn’t feel like it was a “real” committee. What would I have done differently? What can you do?
- When encouraging fellow board members to join the fundraising and development committee clearly explain that asking others for a donation is part of the committee, but helping do the work to get to that point is equally important if it allows the solicitor to do more asks.Working with volunteers has its challenges and time constraints–jobs, family life, hobbies, and other board commitments all compete. You can divide the work of prospect research, prioritizing prospects for the year, collecting relevant information on each prospect, the solicitation, and stewardship. The solicitor will still have to make the calls, find a time and place, have the meeting and make the ask, but that is just one piece of the development committee’s work.
- Follow through by asking each member of the fundraising and development committee to participate on a regular basis. If you stop asking for help, each member will spend their time elsewhere and be too busy by the time you get around to calling them.At the next meeting ask everyone to list what they have done for the committee in the past (if anything), what they hope to work on, and what they would like to avoid. Then, strategize to use each person effectively. If one person doesn’t like to come to meetings but will do research from home, he/she can still be valuable to the committee.
- Hold regular meetings. It will ensure that everyone knows they are still on the committee, that they have a responsibility to do their work by a deadline, and that the chair is not taking the work on by themselves.
- Have clearly defined goals that are achievable. That means choosing whether you are going to focus on new donors, donor retention, increased giving from current donors, events, etc… Don’t try to do it all so that you won’t lose focus and fail at most of it.
- Stay optimistic. Donors and committee members both respond to optimism. If you don’t feel it, fake it until you make it.
The good thing about committees is that every year is a new opportunity to be stronger and better. Make 2017 the start that you were looking for.
Read Chapter 1: How do you improve your solicitation, acknowledgement, and stewardship systems?
Read how this series started by clicking here
Read Chapter 3: Additional Staff Support