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What’s a Development Committee?

The Development 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.

And, financial management — or, more specifically, mismanagement — is one of the most common reasons that charter schools fail.

Key Responsibilities of the Development Committee

The Development Committee assumes the primary responsibility for raising non-grant funds to support the organization’s mission.

They are 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

Who Should Serve on Your Board’s Development Committee?

The ideal Development Committee members have a track record of raising funds for nonprofit organizations to serve on this committee.

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.

In addition, your Development Committee members should be highly-skilled in communicating their needs to the board as well as to 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.

Sample Development Committee Goals & Tasks

As with any committee, your Development Committee’s work should be organized around goals and tasks.

One of your committee’s primary goals might be to:

Develop an Annual Fundraising Plan that includes standard operating procedures, guidelines, and protocols.

And, to ensure you meet that goal, you might assign specific committee members specific tasks.

You’d need to create an annual fundraising plan that outlines management vs. governance role, the role of individual trustees, full board and committee in implementing the development plan.

Upon board approval of the development plan, you’ll agree to timelines and tasks.

BoardOnTrack’s Goals feature is built to set and track each of your committee’s goals. What’s more, we’ve included a Tasks feature, so that you can identify, assign, and track completion of every task associated with your committee’s goals.

Or, you committee might set a goal to:

Complete five-year, special programming budget projections, with a schedule and sufficient detail to allow proper reporting and tracking.

You’d then need to identify and assign associated tasks, such as:

  • Complete a needs assessment for financial resources needed to support enrollment projections (staff, facilities, hard and soft costs)
  • Establish stakeholder focus groups to identify wants and wishes
  • Meet with the Finance Committee to review current fixed budget projections and anticipated basic COL increases
  • Complete a draft budget for board review and approval

Best Practices for Making Your Development Committee a Success

Get On the Same Page

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.

The Development Committee is an essential piece to a successful board.

Assemble a proper committee to allow your board to reach a higher bar.