How to Build a Strong Fund Development Committee

Robin L. Cabral

This post was written and originally published by Neon One partner consultant Robin L. Cabral of Development Consulting Solutions, and is reposted here with her permission.


The “warm body” approach to selecting nonprofit committee members, always fails the diversity and strength test. Far too often, organizations will accept those interested persons without first determining who and what they need to best serve the purpose and expectations of their given committee membership.

To build an influential committee, you must be strategic in who you select based on the needs and visions for your nonprofit organization. When it comes to choosing members of a fund development committee, this selection process becomes even that more important. Fundraising is such a critical element of an organization. You should not leave committee membership to whoever decides to raise their hand at a Board meeting.

Below are the steps recommended to develop a strong nonprofit committee membership that will propel your organization’s fund development forward most effectively.


Ensure that your Fund Development committee has a job description and expectations outlined.


Determine the skills necessary to meet all aspects of that job description and expectations as outlined. Perhaps, you will need individuals who have major gift experience or/and grants and foundations. Use a Committee Composition Matrix to assist you in the process of identifying who currently sitting on your committee has the skills sets and deficits that need to be filled. For a Committee Composition Matrix tool, contact Developing Consulting Solutions for a sample.


Once you have completed the Committee Composition Matrix tool and you have determined what set of skills you need to round out your Fund Development Committee, you should brainstorm people in your community who fit those skill sets and have a connection to your organization. Ideally, a Fund Development Committee should consist of both Board members and non-Board members. Identifying non-Board prospective members is an excellent opportunity to use non-Board members as a “feeder” into future Board leadership.


Ensure that your Chairperson has a job position and expectations outlined. Recruit this person first. Once you recruit the Chair, review the list of possible brainstormed candidates. The Chair may have insight as to who is most appropriate and other names that you may not have thought of to invite to be on the committee. It is their committee, after all, so you don’t want to pre-select without their engagement.


Rate and rank committee members according to networks, experience, and interest in the mission. Be sure that you have adequate representation for all the skills sets on the Committee Composition Matrix.


Once your prospective committee member list has been rated and ranked, then begin securing your “top” prospective members. Don’t just invite. Interview them. Ensure that they are a good fit, have the needed skills and are willing to use them on behalf of the organization, and have the time to commit to committee membership and expectations.


Very rarely does the “warm body” approach to selecting committee members to work. You end up with uninterested or a weak committee because you were not thoughtful and selective in the process. Fund development deserves full attention as the primary revenue streams of many nonprofit organizations. Selection of the best candidates should not be left to chance.

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