Mel and Pearl Shaw

Mel and Pearl Shaw, owners of fundraising consulting firm Saad&Shaw, can be reached at 901-522-8727 or They help nonprofits, businesses, universities, and philanthropy tell their story, and build capacity.

FUNdraising Good Times: Build your fundraising dream team

By Updated: March 12, 2019 4:00 AM CT | Published: March 11, 2019 11:49 AM CT

What if you could build your own fantasy fundraising team? Imagine you have the opportunity to create a fundraising team with all the right people who have all the right skills. The sky would be the limit.

Let’s take it down a notch. Let’s say you could add three dream-team members to your current team. Who would you pick? What would be your criteria? How would your new members work with your current members? Would you have leverage or friction?

Here are a few possibilities of superstars to consider. Which three would you pick and why?

  1. A board member who believes in what you are doing.
  2. A CEO who has defined her business’s vision for the next three to five years.
  3. A civic and social leader who has strong political ties.
  4. A corporate executive who has worked with local nonprofits over the past five years.
  5. A development staff person at your organization who has the energy and can’t accept “no” for an answer.
  6. A donor who has a passion and interest for the work of your organization.
  7. A faith-based leader who is well-respected throughout the community.
  8. A former elected official.
  9. A foundation leader who believes your organization is headed in the right direction.
  10. A local artist with ties to Hollywood or Broadway.
  11. A local attorney or CPA with a track record in the area of estate planning and wealth management.
  12. A local entrepreneur who can provide in-kind services and resources.
  13. A member of a family known for their generous philanthropy.
  14. A member of an LGBTQ employee group with one of the Mid-South’s largest employers.
  15. A recipient of your organization’s services (or an alumnus from your university) who is committed to giving back.
  16. A social-media maven who is well-respected in the business community.
  17. A social venture capitalist with local and national connections.
  18. A volunteer leader who has participated in the top four most recent local fundraising campaigns.

Use this exercise with your fundraising team, staff and/or board of directors. Ask each to pick three and share the reasoning behind their selection. Everyone is bound to learn a lot – and have fun.

The next step is to match those dream-team members with people in your community or network. Who do you know who has these qualities? Who knows someone who knows someone? You can work together to recruit your own dream team.

Here are two more things to consider. First, fundraising is a team sport. You may recruit a fundraising superstar or two, but is that a team? What if he or she leaves? Who will be able to step up? Related to this, you have to find the right mix of people to sustain and grow your fundraising. Consider and weigh elements such as chemistry, skill set, passion, accessibility, commitment and loyalty. It is the way the team works together that makes for sustained success.


Fundraising Good Times

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