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Your Ever-Changing Development Committee

There are some topics that just keep coming up for us as fundraisers.

One of those is the elusive development committee and its role in supporting the work of the organization.

I was recently in a discussion as a volunteer about board committees and by-laws. The question on the table was whether to include certain committees and their descriptions in the legal documents.

We batted back and forth the merits of including a more detailed description of the development committee in particular, but it wasn’t working.  After discussion we all recognized that a development committee changes overtime, depending on what the organization needs.

This post isn’t about by-laws. (I’ll leave that to the legal committees.) It’s about recognizing that a development committee will only be effective if it is flexible and adaptable to the circumstances of the moment.

Your fundraising operation might need something from fundraising volunteers this year that is different from last year.

It’s all comes down to your fundraising plan. Knowing what’s ahead allows you to recruit the right people for the right job to support your current strategy.

Don’t get hung up on keeping a committee going. If you need to disband your current committee and reconstitute it to fit the needs of today, do it!

Create clear objectives and bring people on board (and off board) as needed. Be transparent about your actions, of course, but don’t feel like you have to have a certain kind of development committee in order for it to be effective.

You might even consider re-naming your committee around your fundraising objectives, rather than a general committee. Or maybe you create a Task Force that has a timeline and an end-goal.

Here are the four types of development committees that we see a lot in our work.

The Oversight Council:  closely examines the strategy and performance of the organization’s fundraising program and provide guidance to the staff on fundraising issues.  Ideally, this kind of committee consists of fundraisers and finance people who have the experience to provide this kind of oversight.

The Ambassadors’ Group:  opens doors to new donors in the community.  Members of this kind of committee should be well-connected people who are willing to introduce the organization to their own contacts and networks and ask for support.

The Events Guild:  organizes and execute fundraising events to benefit the organization.  This committee should be full of people who like this kind of work and have the time to dedicate to it.

The Cheerleaders:  inspires board members to make their own personal contributions to the organization.  Committee members may be spearheading a board annual giving campaign or encouraging individual board members to tap their businesses, foundation connections, or government contacts for support.  This kind of committee should consist of members who have influence with their peers on the board.

Which one might work for your fundraising strategy? Is there another model that you are using?

Remember, there is no “right way” for a development committee. It’s your way!

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