The Trustee’s Role in Fundraising

The Trustee’s Role in Fundraising

August 25, 2011 by jga_admin

by Ted Grossnickle


I am honored to be a campaign co-chairman and trustee for my alma mater. This makes me think about the advice I am asked to give to clients in a new way.

When I talk with clients about what ought to be expected of trustees and other volunteers, I have a perspective as a trustee and volunteer in addition to that of a consultant.

It’s not that the two are mutually exclusive. They’re not. But they are different.

Certainly you want a consultant to be objective- even dispassionately so. You want a trustee and co-chairman to be passionate about the cause.

Both perspectives are required for success in a campaign. It is the blend of those two ways of looking at strategy (and tactics) that help (in this case) a College find its way with philanthropy in challenging economic times.

From these two perspectives, I recently shared in a short video what I believe are key questions a trustee should ask when they hear about a proposed campaign:

1. Do you understand why a campaign is proposed and will it advance the mission of the organization? Will it help you help people? Will you do better work?

2. Have the staff and the CEO thought through the campaign… thoroughly? Do they know what will be required of them? Can they support the effort? Are they ready to support volunteers?

3. Are you prepared to be personally very generous to the campaign and also serve as an ambassador sharing your passion and explaining the mission of the organization to others?

4. Has an objective set of eyes studied the campaign – and reported authentically on what will make it work--- and what might derail it?

I’d be interested in hearing your perspectives about these key questions. Please let me know what you think. We’re all students when it comes to getting it right for our institutions…