When structuring a fundraising campaign, nonprofits are encouraged to have campaign chairs, co-chairs, honorary chairs, and an advisory council. The benefits of the first three are well known, but the value of an advisory council can be overlooked. Some campaigns view this council as “just added work”, while others reap benefits.
For those who want to “win” with an advisory council, we share four concepts.
The benefits are many. People serving on this council provide advice and open doors. They have special skills, fundraising experience, or relationships of value to your nonprofit, and they use them on your behalf. Their names are listed on campaign materials, and this serves as an endorsement for your campaign. Oftentimes people want to know who is associated with your campaign. When they see the names of people they respect listed as advisory council members you increase the perceived value of your campaign. Advisory council members can extend the reach of your organization and campaign beyond your current constituency.
It’s a win-win. For your organization, an advisory council is a recruiting ground for new board members and other volunteer leaders. You meet and work with people who might not otherwise be engaged with your nonprofit. Members don’t have to have a history with the organization – just shared values and a belief in what you are trying to achieve. They are building a history with your nonprofit in this role. They are also expanding the reach and capacity of the campaign. When an advisory member provides guidance or strategy, makes a phone call, or participates in a meeting you can accomplish more in a day than you could imagine.
Advisors benefit too. Those serving on your campaign advisory council have the opportunity to be engaged in a project they believe in without a major time commitment. They are not required to attend meetings – they are simply available to the campaign on an as-needed basis. They don’t have to solicit gifts, but it is always an option. And, they are invited to all special events. They benefit from the public exposure that comes with being associated with your campaign, without the responsibilities associated with being a board member or campaign chair. They do not set policy or direction: they are advisors. They also provide an additional set of eyes watching the progress of the campaign. In this capacity they can help identify opportunities and create solutions when challenges arise.
What you need to do. If you choose to create a campaign advisory council, we recommend you have a job description with clearly defined roles and responsibilities. This helps members know what it means – and what it does not mean – to be on your advisory council. Most importantly, be sure to ask for their advice. People know when you are “using” their name vs. when you want their guidance.
An advisory council can be added work or a blessing. Which will it be for you?
[Copyright 2021 – Mel and Pearl Shaw of Saad&Shaw – Comprehensive Fund Development Services. Let us help you plan for 2021 Video and phone conferencing services always available. Call us at (901) 522-8727. www.saadandshaw.com.]