You may run out and buy a new gadget because you know it can be useful in a variety of ways. As soon as you open the box, you’re overwhelmed by the setup, information, choices, useability. Before too long, it’s gone. You don’t have time all that.

Instead, it just sits around and from time to time you’ll think, “If I only knew how to use that thing it would be so helpful.”

I hear similar thoughts and feelings about development committees. Many development directors know they can be a fundraising asset if only they knew how to use them effectively.

Here are three tips to get started in building an effective development committee:

  1. Start big – It’s easy to immediately dive into the weeds. However, you’ll quickly find yourself overwhelmed and disoriented. Instead, start big and work your way down. Remind yourself and other leaders that one key responsibility of the board is to ensure the financial stability of the organization. Because fundraising is a vital revenue source for nonprofits, a committee of the board must ensure its effectiveness by establishing clear goals, planning effectively, and supporting the execution of those plans. Starting with the big picture will allow you to have more strategic discussions with the committee which will allow you to do tip number two…
  2. Teach – One common reason fundraising plans fail is because we expect the committee to create a plan without any training or experience. Incorporate fundraising training into your development planning process. Not just one time, but throughout the year. Each meeting is an opportunity to teach, inform, and influence the committee’s decisions.
  3. Promise to respect their personal and business relationships – Unfortunately, you likely have committee members who have been asked to leverage relationships (friends, family members, neighbors, colleagues, dinner club members, etc.) to make a gift to an organization. Let your committee members know from the beginning you value and respect their relationships, and you will not ask them to compromise those relationships in an effort to secure a gift. Yes, if they know someone who is interested in or has a passion for the mission, they should make an introduction. Assure them it will be handled in a way that respects their relationship and allows the new contact to decide how they wish to engage with the organization.

I hope your 2023 is off to a great start with clear goals and a solid plan.