12.15 The Honorary Committee

Dear Kim:

My organization is celebrating its 10th Anniversary in 2012 and is thinking about forming an honorary committee of big donors/high profile figures to help support the year’s fundraising efforts.  Aside from listing committee names on letterhead for fundraising appeals and on event invitations, are there other things honorary committee members can do for your organization?  Will I need to create a committee description for potential members?

~What’s in a title? 

Dear What’s? 

Congratulations on your 10th Anniversary!  That means your organization has spent more than a third of its life surviving in this recession and you should be proud of that.  The great thing about an “Honorary Committee” is that it has whatever meaning you want it to have.  I think the minimum you want from committee members is their own gift, plus permission to use their names on publicity materials.  In addition, it would be normal to expect them to be at the event, and even for one or more of them to speak.  Often, honorary committee members are asked to assemble a table of friends and colleagues and to help raise money.  Some agree to this and some don’t, and of course some of those who agree follow through and some don’t.  But basically you can create whatever job description you want, knowing that the more tasks you ask them to perform, the fewer will agree to serve on the committee.  For this reason, most organizations have an “Honorary Committee” made up of well known people who loan their name and make their own gift, then a “Host Committee” of people who may also be well known, but who do a lot more work.  I suggest looking at the invitations of some of the very largest organizations in your community for more ideas, and if you belong to the Association of Fundraising Professionals or other network of development and special event people, to ask them what works best.  

And, to you and all our readers:  please have a happy holiday.  Get some rest.  Do something fun with people you love. 

~Kim Klein