The Goldie Company

Parley: October 2014 - This is what a Vigilant Fundraiser looks like: Lee Pigeau

Step 5: Develop a Fundraising Committee

From urban metropolises to rural enclaves, Lee Pigeau helps non-profit organizations raise funds and manage their operations efficiently and effectively. With extensive experience as a leader and volunteer, Lee is passionate in helping organizations realize their potential.

Lee is dedicated to community building throughout Central Ontario. He has been a keynote speaker at various Canadian and provincial conferences, speaking on strategic planning, volunteer management and motivation, board and staff relations as well as fundraising and goal setting. Lee teaches Volunteer Management, Annual Giving, Planning for Fundraising and Capital Campaigns at Georgian College.

In our two-part interview, we caught up with Lee for his thoughts on creating a fundraising committee.

What makes a good fundraising committee?

The committee itself needs to understand that they are a team, but a team of individuals. When you go out and raise funds, you don’t do it at the same time, en masse. It’s not a soccer team, it is more of a competitive gymnastics or NASCAR team. Your performance is individual but you lean on everybody else for support and in the end everyone’s success is your success. A good team will consist of leaders, doers, and information gatherers who will be well-supported by the organization in terms of motivation, support, resources and leadership.

What types of people should be on the fundraising committee?

The people on the fundraising committee must be committed to what your organization is doing. There needs to be support from the charity, and the volunteer members need to respect the best practices, protocol and expertise that is brought to them. A good member of the committee would know the community, audience and have charisma, leadership, the ability to communicate persuasively and technically as well as the inclination to report results. You do need action-oriented people but they must be good listeners, not just great talkers

How do you find the best people to work on your team?

It depends on the organization’s life cycle. First, look at people who donate or currently volunteer. Current donors appreciate the need for a systematic approach to giving and can understand the ways to ask and not to ask. Volunteers can bring passion, but you have to train them in fundraising. A great way to get volunteers is through your professional network. For instance, most banks encourage community involvement from their managers, so if you have a local bank that funds your projects, get to know the manager. You can also look at past board members, service clubs, and Chambers of Commerce; where you will find motivated individuals who are involved in the community.

What has caused the shift from having warm hearted individuals to hiring for skilled volunteers?

I don’t think it is so much a shift as it is a recognition of the need for skilled volunteers, therefore, recruiting has become more formal and professional. Successful volunteers can be skilled and have a warm heart. When you look at charities being held accountable, they are looked at as businesses. The donors want to know that the volunteers and staff have skills and that they can be trusted, especially if they’re investing $5,000, $10,000 or $1,000,000 into capital campaigns.

Are there disadvantages in hiring skilled volunteers? Do they have the same compassion for the cause?

Normally, no. But there is sometimes a risk when skilled volunteers are there to broaden their networks or have a personal agenda. If they aren’t there for the good of the cause, then the organization can be tainted.

For you, what does it mean to be a ‘vigilant fundraiser’?

To be vigilant is to check every step and always looking for ways to improve. A ‘vigilant fundraiser’ always questions if he or she is “doing it right?”, “did I say thank you?”, “am I putting the organization at risk?” and so on.

Julie Dorsey is a Writer for The Goldie Company. She interviewed Lee Pigeau for his thoughts on creating a fundraising committee.