Our friend and office colleague Melissa Bowen, executive director of the MyLifeLine Cancer Foundation, asked us last week for a description or mission of a board development (or fundraising) committee. Her organization, which is five years along and happily growing, is in the process of strengthening its committee structure. We were glad to help and thought this would make a good Rich TIP.
Here are some roles/responsibilities for your consideration. In general, forming a fundraising committee is a fine way to ask several of your board members to model for the whole group the kinds of tasks and projects that will support your bottom line. Obviously very few people look forward to asking outright for money, so our recommended approach in building your development committee is to include a range of ideas so that there is more likely to be “something for everyone.” Your committee as a whole, and/or its individual members, can be expected to:
- Work with the executive director and development staff, if you have one, on setting ambitious but achievable fundraising goals for the year. This may include reviewing the grants planning calendar for upcoming due dates.
- Develop ways to encourage all board members to tap into their network(s) and contacts. Often this will include “modeling the behavior you seek,” i.e., demonstrating how this is done.
- Divide up lists of recent donors and write personal, handwritten thank-you notes. This could also include making follow-up phone calls.
- Host a small house party or mixer where your mission and impact is showcased. Again, a development committee member who is savvy and experienced in such things can show the newcomers on your board how this is done.
- Preside as host at your facility open house, brown bag luncheon, tours, etc.
- Go with your executive director and/or development director on important coffee or lunch appointments with donor or funder prospects.
- Encourage full board participation at any and all of your events and celebrations, including holding their peers accountable for the kind of participation they agreed to when elected to your board. This also includes chairing an annual board campaign.
- Take on the training component of future board meetings, i.e., coaching on “elevator speeches” and how all board members can serve as champions, cheerleaders and ambassadors of your cause.
- Serve as point people or team captains for garnering in-kind donations and silent auction items.
- Determine whether the time is right for you to develop a multi-year resource development plan (usually done following the completion of a strategic plan), including bringing in a fundraising strategy consultant if appropriate.
- Help design and present corporate partnership proposals to companies you have determined are good prospects for sponsorships and more.
- Define the best way to evaluate the success and the cost/benefit of various fundraising strategies your organization uses. Is your special gala event worth all the work, or might it be time to move to something else, i.e., several small events in different seasons? A board committee comprised of people who do not have a “history” with a time-honored project is a good way to approach its evolution from an unbiased, data-driven perspective.
Talk back! What else does your board fundraising committee do that isn’t on this list? How do you form and foster an effective committee that people actually look forward to serving on?