fundraising chairman leader transition

Congratulations! You are Fundraiser Chairman

Congratulations!  You are Fundraiser Chairman…

what should you do first?


It’s an Honor

It’s an honor to be chosen to Chair a fundraiser.  Some important skills required to lead the project  are:

  1. ability to strategize short & long term goals.
  2. prioritize what needs to be done and by whom
  3. communicate with your staff/volunteers so they know what is trying to be accomplished.  


Decisions small and large will need to be made, but with clear planning and execution, this won’t be as difficult as it may seem.  The more organized you are, the easier it will be.



Spend some quality time with the previous fundraising chairperson.  Be prepared to ask questions- but more importantly be prepared to listen.  A healthy transition creates a sound foundation to move forward.  Using past experiences can provide insight to what did and did not work and why.  Until you really know, learning firsthand from the previous chair is one of the best resources an incoming Chair can utilize.


A 360 degree evaluation and survey should also provide insight.  A 360 degree review involves gaining feedback from all directions surrounding fundraising.  Survey Monkey makes asking and receiving these candid responses easy and anonymous.  Feedback is a gift; use it make educated and prudent decisions.  

Leadership Tips

Bring a positive attitude FIRST!

Whatever attitude & culture you bring to a situation will be magnified to the fundraising team and the fundraising efforts.  Communicating clear goals, roles and tasks will ultimately provide self motivation for team members.  Most times fundraising teams are volunteers.  There is a huge difference between expectations from a typical leader/employee relationship vs chairman/volunteer.  The volunteer is giving up his or her personal time and has every right to say no. Creating a high commitment culture again goes back the leader.  The prime reason people will volunteer is because it feels good.  The prime reason they will re-volunteer is because they are respected and appreciated.  

Trusting YOU as a leader means the team will trust themselves to follow the leader.  

Don’t take it personal!

As much as we hope that all decisions will be embraced, it is inevitable to bump into a few negative people or incidents along the way.  Maintain composure and take time to assess the information before answering or reacting.  It’s ok to say “thanks for the feedback, we will take it into consideration.”  Gather yourself and reply in a professional and healthy manner after the emotional wave has passed.  


True Fox Story: We were running a fundraiser at a school and the room mom called the fundraising chair to share frustration about how the fundraiser was affecting ‘her’ classroom.  After letting the room mom vent and politely asking for some time to get back to her a more productive conversation took place a short time later.  Turns out the room mom’s frustration was somewhat warranted and related to communication gaps.  The chair asked her to be the room-mom lead and join the fundraising committee.  Further in time the room-mom lead took a very active role in fundraising and made the team even stronger.  


Plan and Execute

Analyze but don’t paralyze.  Evaluate fundraising activities as quantitatively as possible.  

  • Brainstorm possible options
  • How much money do you need to raise
  • How much money do you want to raise
  • How many hours will fundraising require
  • How many volunteers will fundraising require
  • Map out potential ranges of outcomes


At this point take the leap of faith and make a decision.  Informed and educated decisions will lead to the right decisions. Sometimes the answer is just a few tweaks, but other times it’s a completely new idea.  Believe in the data and research, but also believe in yourself.  

Lay out the fundraising plan, timeline and checklist. Communicate with the team in a timely and organized fashion.  

Note: The leader must have full confidence in the fundraising plans in order for the followers to have trust.  If you can wake up every morning, look in the mirror and be proud to own the decision- then go for it!  


Keep all communication channels open with a steady flow of information and instruction.  

Limit meetings to just the necessities.  Don’t make standing meeting dates “just to have” a meeting.  Come with an agenda, come prepared to inform, and come ready to discuss and make decisions..  Meetings these days don’t even have to be in person.  Technology like Voispot makes meetings possible- even if those meeting are in different cities.  If you want to see how Vois works, you can visit their website here. And there are numerous other apps and websites that will allow you to hold meetings, even when some of the participants might not actually be in the same physical location as you.  Just do a little research online!



Fun Fox Fact

The female of the species is called a vixen for good reason: With her sharp mind and equally sharp tongue, she is best left alone when angry.  DON’T be like a fox in responding to negative feedback!  Here are some coping tips.   



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