By David Scully, President and CIO, DWAM
Partly because I have a father that has built a very successful career in professional fund-raising and partly because I deal with people’s money on a daily basis in my normal business responsibilities, I have found that I am very comfortable in a fund-raising role. It’s easy and natural for me to talk to folks about their money and ultimately ask them for a donation to support a cause that I believe in. Thus, it makes sense that when I get involved with nonprofit organizations I feel called to join their respective development committees. In sitting on these various development committees over the past decade, I can say with full confidence that there are a handful of people that you need to identify and recruit to the committee to ensure the success of the annual fund and capital campaigns as they arise. Take for granted that passion for the mission is prerequisite for inclusion in the candidate pool, but of these passionate candidates you will need at least a few folks that are leaders at their place of employment (think company President or Owner of a local business). Adding these individuals gives access to not only their personal resources, but also those of their companies (not just financial – networks, marketing, and yes, money). In a perfect world, you would also identify a few ultra-extroverted people. This group is very comfortable reaching out to your stake holders to solicit donations. This isn’t a role for everyone as the mere thought of asking for money petrifies many individuals despite their strong networks and passion. Finally, it is very important to have professional fund-raisers on the committee. And please don’t overlook the ones that are already in house. Too often I have encountered development committees that have excluded their development staffs from the meetings. This is a big mistake as the pros can lend valuable advice and direction to a passionate yet inexperienced group. The development committee plays an enormous role in the success of any nonprofit organization, and engaging the correct mix of people can be the key in a smooth path toward ultimate achievement of the mission.