The fundraising process is often outward-facing: making in-person asks, making calls, sending mail, and using the internet or holding events. But in this post, we want to draw your attention to an important fundraising tool that is internal to your organization: Fundraising Committees.
Fundraising committees play a unique and important role in your overall fundraising activities. Unlike the other forms of fundraising, your fundraising committee isn’t a direct source of funds to your organization, but rather is a way to help expand the overall reach of the organization by increasing fundraising capacity and the number of possible donors.
Perhaps the first and biggest question people ask is “who should be on my committee?” followed closely by “how do I use my committee?”
Who Should Be on Your Committee?
Your fundraising committee should be composed of a relatively small group of supporters who are willing to advocate for you by helping you expand your list of potential donors. Business owners, heads of local civic groups, and current and former elected officials are all excellent people to have on your committee. Ultimately, however, you are looking for people who are well connected to circles that you may not have the best access to.
Above all else, you are going to want to have a fundraising committee that is comprised of people you can trust, are familiar with and support your goals, and are willing to commit their time to help meet those goals. Though it may seem obvious, the reasons are clear: people who don’t care or can’t commit the time necessary to help increase your coffers are dead weight - at best, you are wasting their time, at worst they are wasting yours.
Also, remember that a fundraising committee can grow and change over time as more and more people learn about you and your organization. For this reason, you are going to want to make sure that you are upfront and honest about your expectations when recruiting new members while simultaneously being open to new ideas.
How Do You Use Your Committee?
Fundraising committees are designed to build two types of capital: monetary and social capital - and by using your fundraising committee effectively can help ensure that you see success. Your fundraising committee is only as useful as you want it to be, so if you create a committee but don’t have clear goals for members or don’t use it for its intended goal, meetings will become a waste of time - time you could be spending actually getting donations. If, on the other hand, you hold committee members responsible by assigning them tasks and following through on those assignments, you will find that your committee can be one of the greatest ways to quickly and easily expand your reach.
So what kind of assignments should you give them?
Activities related to building monetary capital is fairly straightforward. Your committee should help you in putting together the nuts and bolts of fundraising activities such as:
- Creating and expanding donor contact lists and help to determine what level of donation you can expect from these donors and what method of contact you should use.
- Drafting and reviewing fundraising materials before they are sent to donors.
- Helping to prepare fundraising materials such as stuffing envelopes.
- Planning and executing fundraising events.
- Providing feedback on practice phone calls and in-person meetings.
All of these activities and more are designed to bring in more funds compared to you simply going at it yourself, and you will soon find that the extra set of hands can go a long way towards success.
One of the big benefits of a fundraising committee is that it helps build your social capital. By having a committee with a wide range of backgrounds and social networks, you are able to reach out to people you might not otherwise have access to - but sometimes you shouldn’t be the one doing all the work when it comes to asking for funds.
Committee members should be arranging in-person meetings with potential high-dollar donors, finding people to host events (and hold events themselves), sending personalized fundraising letters and forwarding fundraising emails to key individuals, and making personalized calls during fundraising drives.
Finally, because you are going to (hopefully) be asking a lot of your fundraising committee, always keep an eye on morale. Be sure to always show gratitude for the hard work they are doing and provide clear benchmarks determined by you and the group that you can celebrate. Be clear in your goals and intentions when recruiting and using your fundraising committee to avoid turnover, and always try to make the atmosphere fun - people want to feel like they are a part of something, and by giving people on your fundraising committee ownership of the mission, you can help ensure that you have a productive and committed group.