Help, my event committee needs a make over!

Dear Amy,

I’m in the process of putting together my 2012 Walk committee.  Last year, my committee was not as helpful as I would’ve liked.  I‘m recruiting a few new committee members to help, but I worried that I’ll be in the same boat again- a bunch of committee members who aren’t sharing the work load.  Do you have any suggestions on how to get committee members to take a more active role in the planning the event and recruiting teams?

My Committee Needs a Makeover in Boston

Dear My Committee Needs a Makeover,

I can completely empathize with you.  I can’t tell you how many times I left a committee meeting and I was the only one with a To Do List.

I’ve noticed that there tends to be three types of committee members: Party planners: committee members who are interested in day of event details, Money makers: committee members interested in raising money to reach your goal, and top fundraising team captains (sorry I don’t have a fun name for this group), but they’re very interesting.  I’ve noticed that sometimes top team captains don’t always make the best committee members, which is fine (I’ll explain shortly).

My committees were usually filled with Party Planners and one or two Money Makers.  So how do you get committee members to take action instead of just providing lots of fun ideas?  Here’s my trick.

After years of managing non-action oriented committees, it finally occurred to me.  I decided to meet with each committee member before our first meeting.  I wanted to spend some one-on-one time with each member to learn about their strengths and how they could be a contributing committee member.  I’ve found that in committee meeting setting, often a few members speak and everyone else listens.   But, by meeting individually before we get together as a group, I was able to learn about each committee members’ talents.  Then I was able to strategize how each committee member could contribute.

My to do list soon turned into a follow up list.  Instead of completing every task, I was following with committee members or partnering with members on tasks.  Partnering with committee members was awesome!  Instead of everyone handing me a list of potential sponsors, we would work together on the request.  I have to say we were way more successful as a team then me cold calling their contacts.

I know it might not seem like a novel ideas to meet one-on-one with committee members before the meeting, but it really helped me.  I was able to build a better relationship with each committee member and understand their capabilities.   Not just whether they were a party planner or a money maker, but I was able to get an honest commitment from each member.  Committee members have lives.  Being on the committee is just one of many activities they’ve committed to.  Taking the time to set proper expectations makes life so much easier.  I think that should be rule somewhere.  Always set proper expectations!

So, the reason why top fundraising team captains don’t always make the best committee members is because they’re devoted to their team.  That’s where their interest lies.  It’s funny, you’d think top fundraising team captains make the best committee members; because they’re usually very connected to the cause, but that’s not always the case.  These fundraising powerhouses: want the event to be successful, like being on the committee to find out event details or get fundraising ideas, but they’re really interested in their team and that’s awesome!  We want top fundraising team captains to be focused on their team and if they want to join the committee, why not everyone should be welcome.  Remember to manage your expectations with top fundraisers – don’t assume that your top fundraisers will be active committee members.  Sometimes, we need our top fundraiser to simply be top fundraisers.

I hope this helps.  Thanks for your question.  Keep them coming!