07 Mar A Role for Development Committees
7 March 2023
By David Allen, Development for Conservation
Does your land trust have a Development Committee? A Board committee whose job it is to oversee organizational fundraising? What does it do? How is it organized?
This post is about one way of thinking through these questions.
I believe that Development Committees facilitate fundraising activities to ensure that organizational goals are met or exceeded. In other words, they make sure there is enough money for everyone else to do the work they need to do.
That means Development Committees do five things:
- Select and plan for the suite of fundraising activities the organization will deploy;
- Understand the ROI (net) for each fundraising activity and ensure, on behalf of the Board, that the cumulative ROI will meet the long-term and in the short-term needs.
- Plan for, establish, and monitor organizational relationships with members and donors at the highest levels of giving.
- Manage and coordinate the donor engagement work of all Board directors.
- Ensure that fundraising activities are funded (budgeted) adequately to be successful.
For most organizations, the Development Committee should have at least three Board members with one of them serving as Chair. Three ensures some minimal level of continuity and succession. More Board members are desirable up to about half the Board. For some smaller organizations, the Development Committee might be a committee of the whole.
Other individuals who are not directors could also serve on the Committee, recognizing that depth and breadth of outside experience in fundraising, communications, marketing, and event planning may be advantageous in the conduct of its work.
The presence of staff does not change the need for a Development Committee. And it shouldn’t add “supervision of the Development Director” to the list of responsibilities.
There may be sub-committees of the Development Committee that come and go to handle specific project campaigns or events.
Importantly, fundraising is a core-level responsibility of every Board director. This often gets confused with “asking,” and some Board directors run away as a result. But all Board directors can participate in building relationships with individual, corporate, foundation, and agency funders and to advocate for their organization back into their communities.
The Development Committee organizes that work.
So that brings me to the following list of Development Committee responsibilities:
- Create and monitor a framework for fundraising activities, including clear and specific roles for Board directors and staff and supported Board director responsibilities.
- Evaluate and monitor fundraising plans and calendars that meet the short-term and long-term funding needs of the Conservancy. The fundraising plans should clearly identify net return (ROI) expectations from each activity and donor group, and be accompanied by budgets adequate to produce those results.
- Establish and annually review a list of donors for individual engagement and stewardship attention. Plan the engagement and stewardship for each one, and assign appropriate Board level responsibility.
- Establish and oversee sub-committees charged with developing and executing specific fundraising initiatives or campaigns (e.g. a specific project campaign or a Gala).
- Work with individual Board directors to plan and fulfill their community “ambassador” responsibilities to help spread the word and recruit new members.
- Develop and monitor resource development policies and procedures including gift acceptance, acknowledgement, in-kind donation, donor record, and deaccession policies.
- Educate and communicate regularly with Board directors regarding development goals, achievements to date, and actions needed to ensure fulfillment.
- Regularly educate and facilitate the full Board of Directors’ understanding of Land Trust Standards and Practices specific to fundraising and donor relationships.
I have prepared a sample Development Committee Charter for reference on the Resources page. Use it as a template to draft one that suits your organization better.
If you have Development Committee that functions really well, I’d love to learn from your experience. What advice can you add to the above?
Cheers, and have a great week!
PS: Your comments on these posts are welcomed and warmly requested. If you have not posted a comment before, or if you are using a new email address, please know that there may be a delay in seeing your posted comment. That’s my SPAM defense at work. I approve all comments as soon as I am able during the day.
Photo by SUNFLAIR, courtesy pixabay.com