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What’s a Development Committee?

With the right structure, process, and accountability practices, the Development Committee [also known as the Fundraising Committee] can become one of the most valuable assets to your board and organization as a whole.

In addition to good fiscal management, ensuring that the organization has sufficient funding to support the growth and expansion of the organization is critical to long term sustainability.


This article will provide you with:

Key Responsibilities of the Development Committee

Who should serve on your board’s Development Committee

Sample Development Committee SMART Goals And Tasks

Four Secrets Of Successful Development Committees

Additional resources for getting your Development Committee going


Key Responsibilities of the Development Committee

A charter school board’s Development Committee assumes the primary responsibility for raising non-grant funds to support the organization’s mission.

They’re responsible for:

  • Developing a realistic fundraising plan alongside the CEO
  • Assisting fellow trustees with completing essential board-level fundraising tasks
  • Organizing training, as needed, for the full board to support the realization of fundraising goals
  • Developing relationships and fostering a positive image of the organization within the community

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 Who Should Serve on Your Board’s Development Committee?

 

The ideal Development Committee members have a track record of raising funds for nonprofit organizations.

Fundraising is a skill and a profession. But often, charter school boards don’t seek out skilled professionals to serve on this committee. And so, they leave too much responsibility in the hands of people without this expertise.

Look for people who know how to develop and implement a realistic fundraising plan, and who can mentor the other trustees in this area so they might contribute.

This is especially the case for the committee chair. You want this committee to be led by someone who has deep practical knowledge of the strategies and tactics that work, and has a proven track record of motivating people to take action in support of a mission.

In addition, your Development Committee members should be highly skilled in communicating their needs to the board and external personnel.

Your board will need to have a frank conversation about the funding you’ll need to achieve your organization’s goals — and whether you can do so without private fundraising.

Most charter school boards find themselves split between members who feel fundraising is essential, and those who are nervous about fundraising or even disdain the concept. It’s essential that your Development Committee is staffed by people who can effectively lead these conversations.

People with backgrounds in marketing or PR, especially in the nonprofit sector, can be excellent members of a Development Committee.

With the right structure, process, and accountability practices, the Development Committee [also known as the Fundraising Committee] can become one of the most valuable assets to your board and organization as a whole.

In addition to good fiscal management, ensuring that the organization has sufficient funding to support the growth and expansion of the organization is critical to long term sustainability.

Sample Development Committee SMART Goals and Tasks

As with any committee, your Development Committee’s work should be organized around SMART goals that contribute to your organization’s priorities. And, you’ll assign tasks to ensure you meet those goals.

SMART board goals are: Strategic, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Timebound.

  • Strategically important to the organization’s and board’s priorities, which roll up to the promises made in your charter.
  • Measurable in that you know how you’ll prove you accomplished what you set out to.
  • Attainable and realistic, even while being appropriately aspirational. You’ve got a very real job to do as the governing board for this school. The outcomes promised to kids and families are real. The results the board delivers must be as well.
  • Timebound to deliver results by a set date. Charter school governance comes with a special urgency. Each student has just these few and precious years. There’s no time to waste.

How do you set a Development Committee goal that’s strategically important to the organization’s priorities?

Let’s say your organization’s priority is to add a new school. That might be a multi-year endeavor. This year’s organizational priority might be to acquire a building in order to have a place for that new school. What will the board do to help make that happen?

The Development Committee’s goal might be to raise $30,000 from individual donors to come up with the funds necessary to make that facility happen.

Note that this priority takes more than funds. There will be interdependencies between the Academic Committee, the Development Committee, and the Finance Committee. But, we’re going to stay focused on the Development Committee for now.

Before they’re finalized, the committees’ goals will be brought to the full board for approval.

And, to ensure you meet that goal, you might assign specific committee members specific tasks, such as:

  • Develop a realistic fundraising strategy.
  • Set an expectation for minimum donation from each trustee.
  • Plan the flagship fundraising event.

Four Secrets of Successful Development Committees

Plan your work and measure your progress, with transparency and accountability.

Planning is only as good as the action that follows it. Setting your board’s goals is a vital first step. But the point is to achieve them. No matter how big and audacious your fundraising goal is, the answer to achieving it is the same: one task at a time.

Define the tasks that’ll be required for meeting your goal, and assign those tasks to individuals — not a committee or the board as a whole.

This ensures your board isn’t reliant on the heroic efforts of one or two people. It might even reveal that you don’t have all the right people, in the right roles, to get the right work done. If so, your Governance Committee will step in to help recruit trustees or non-board members to ensure those tasks get completed.

Build transparency and accountability into your committee by using a dashboard to track committee goals and individual task assignments, all in one place. Review your dashboard at every board and committee meeting.

BoardOnTrack’s goals dashboard makes it easy to organize goals by committee, organize tasks by goal, and make your progress visible to the whole team. [See the dashboard at work .]

Get On the Same Page About the Nature of Fundraising

As noted above, most charter school boards are split between members who feel fundraising is essential and those who are nervous about fundraising or even disdain the concept.

Have an honest conversation with your full board about whether you can achieve your organization’s goals without private fundraising. And, if you decide that private fundraising is necessary, it’ll be important to clarify what the full board’s responsibility is in achieving your short- and long-term fundraising goals.

Make Development a Full-Board Affair

As with each of the other committees, the development committee’s job is to facilitate the full board achieving fundraising goals. The committee plans and supports the execution of key tasks, but ultimately, the full board is responsible for participating in and achieving annual fundraising goals.

Manage Volunteer Responsibilities

A group of committed volunteers can certainly add a great deal to an organization’s fundraising efforts. But it’s unrealistic to place all the weight on the shoulders of a volunteer board.

Just like there is substantive work for a Finance Committee to do while a full-time staff fulfills the day-­to-day financial management of the organization, the same is true for fundraising.

The committee has a role to play, but substantial private funds cannot be raised by the board without the support and expertise of paid full-time staff also dedicated to this important area of the organization.

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Get your Development Committee working with these additional resources.

1) This sample Development Committee job description

2) Our complete guide to board committees

3) Our free board goals email course

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