June 9, 2017

Fundraising Committees Where Everyone Pitches In

A committee meeting around a tableIt’s not uncommon. You create a committee to fundraise. You carefully screen whom to invite and coax them to join.
And then boom!
You leave the first meeting with lots of advice, tons of work, and very little help. Why does this happen? How can you get the help you need? Take the following steps.

Before Fundraising Committee Meetings

1.  Names Matter.
Select the title of your gathering with care. Unless you just want advice, don’t use the word advisory or synonyms. Consider calling it a working committee or your fundraising task force.
2. Recruit with Integrity.
As you invite helpers, share your expectations. Mention that you anticipate that everyone will leave with half a dozen people to contact and other tasks. Yes, you’ll recruit fewer volunteers but get more results.
3. Be Ambitious.
Write down all your goals for the committee and this meeting. This preparation gives you a fallback plan in case of detours. Sort your goals into best, realistic, and worse case. In the case of your first meeting, you write:
  • Best: Seven people contact five people by June 30.
  • Realistic: Five attendees agree to connect with two people, and I call seven people.
  • Worse: You invited friendly people but not the right people. You gain insights on your next move, which may involve contacting individuals and asking for their feedback.

During Fundraising Committee Meetings

4. Inspire.
Take the attitude that you would be remiss not to share the opportunity for attendees to contribute to your cause and make new friends by fundraising in a meaningful and measurable way. Be clear about fundraising challenges. Remind all of the rewards of achieving the mission.
5. Error on the Side of Giving Too Much Information.
When it comes to assigning tasks, error on the side of giving too many instructions. For instance, you would like people to attend your event. Provide a script they might use to call a friend, invite a business to buy a table, and other scenarios. Answer questions such as, “Is it okay to leave a message?” And “What might the message say? (Let’s Raise Nonprofit Millions Together explores this topic in depth.) Don’t forget what it’s like to be a beginner and do whatever it takes for your committee members to succeed. Yes, this will take longer–at first.
6. Finish Strong.
Summarize what happened—review decisions and the commitments made. While you’re together, solve anticipated challenges. For ongoing groups, use the Partnership Evaluation Tool.

After Your Committee Meets

7. Take Five to Evaluate.
You invested significant time in creating the committee. Take a few minutes to cement your growth. What went well? Consider what you would do differently next time. How will you follow up? What do people need to do the work they accepted? Make a plan for following up and plan who you will contact before you meet again.
Give people in your community a better life. Include BOTH those you serve and those who work with you to make it happen. Spread it around. Don’t steal all the joy of helping.
Check out Karen’s CEO Library for more fundraising insights.
Karen Eber Davis

Karen Eber Davis provides customized advising and coaching around nonprofit strategy and board development. People leaders hire her to bring clarity to sticky situations, break through barriers that seem insurmountable, and align people for better futures. She is the author of 7 Nonprofit Income Streams and Let's Raise Nonprofit Millions Together.


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