Try a Donor Advisory Council

Larry Tucker

In working with a couple nonprofits, we developed a concept that might work well for organizations who are having a difficult time initiating an effective fundraising strategy: The Donor Advisory Council.

The concept is this: The executive director recruits some (even one might work!) high level donors and/or business leaders in your community to act as a sounding board in developing fundraising strategies. These council members would NOT be asked to donate to your organization. They would be asked to meet periodically to help you and your board strategize on topics like:

  •  The best ways to fundraise in specific communities and population segments
  •  How to tap specific networks of large donors
  •  What “elevator speeches” to use in speaking with donors

Why might this work? It is sometimes easier to convince people to donate an hour or two of their time to share their opinions than to fork over some funds. They get hit upon constantly by organizations looking for financial help. They may be interested enough in your cause to share a little time, but not dedicated enough to join your board.

What is the board’s role in this activity? It’s possible that your board already is populated with large donors or business leaders who are leading your fundraising effort, so a Donor Advisory Council may not be needed. But in many cases, nonprofit boards are filled with strong supporters who are not tapped into the right networks to initiate effective fundraising strategies.  

Author: Larry Tucker, Executive Coaches of Orange County,