Does Your Board Need
a Development Commmittee?

Ann Fitzgerald President AC Fitzgerald author

Ann C. Fitzgerald, President

Have you ever wished for your board members to be more active in fundraising activities?

You are not alone.

Many non-profit executives try to find ways to maximize their board members’ talents, expertise, and personal and professional contacts.

One solution may be to establish a development committee of the board. In general, committees can maximize the productivity of the board by subdividing a board’s governance duties. These smaller groups allow the workload to be divided so that members can tackle complex issues and apply their particular expertise to appropriate areas. Also, board committees can attract and involve newcomers and serve as a training ground for new board officers.

The Role of a Development Committee

The purpose of a board development committee is to assist an organization in achieving its fundraising goals. One of the greatest advantages in creating a board development committee is that it keeps the board focused on the important role and financial realities of fundraising.  Moreover, it offers the staff new energy and ideas.

Depending on the organization, the board development committee may work with staff to:

  • Review all fundraising programs and activities.
  • Encourage all board members to make a financial contribution to the organization.
  • Identify new prospects within their social or professional networks.
  • Make introductions to key prospects including representatives at grant-making foundations, individual donors, and corporations.
  • Solicit gifts either alone or with fundraising staff.
  • Host events.
  • Make calls to donors/major donor prospects.
  • Participate in speaking engagements where potential donors might be present.
  • Sign solicitation appeals or thank you letters.

Important First Steps

In considering your need for a board development committee, ask these questions:

  • How large is your board? If you have a very small board, special committees may not be effective or necessary.
  • Do your by-laws contain any provisions for committees?
  • What are the specific duties that you would like the board development committee to perform? Fundraising? Hosting events? Making introductions? Etc.
  • Who on your board is best suited to helping on this committee? If you don’t currently have board members willing or able to serve on this committee, should you consider expanding your board?
  • What is the ideal number of people you want serving on the committee? Who will chair the committee?
  • How will committee members participate? Will there be regular meetings? Teleconferences?
  • Are there other key people, such as major donors, who are not currently board members who may be able to add value by serving on this committee in an advisory capacity?

While there is no guarantee that the dollars will start rolling in once you establish a development committee, you will benefit from having board members who are more engaged in the work of fundraising.

Ann C. Fitzgerald is Founder and President of AC Fitzgerald, using her decades of experience in fundraising, management, leadership, and sales to help nonprofits build their capacity and achieve success. She is a sought-after speaker, writer, and advisor.

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