Building a Parent Development Committee: How to Get Your School’s Parents Engaged in the Fundraising Process

September 14, 2018 Joe Garecht

Building a Parent Development Committee

School fundraising can be hard. In order to raise the necessary amount for your school to thrive, it’s important to build a culture of philanthropy that encourages parents, alumni, and families to make your school part of their annual giving plans. One of the best ways to build that culture is by creating a parent development committee. 

As the name implies, a parent development committee is a group of five to twenty-five (or more) parents that help your school raise money. They can achieve this goal by setting up fundraising events and inviting other parents to attend, by sourcing items for your next silent auction, by introducing you to businesses that may want to offer in-kind goods or services, or by finding sponsors for your next walk-a-thon. 

When recruiting committee members, be clear that the group's purpose is fundraising. The best parents to join the committee are those with large networks among current and former school families, as well as those with connections to local businesses and other potential donors. 

How to Motivate and Support the Parent Development Committee 

Once the parent committee is assembled, your primary task is to keep the group motivated and working together for the good of the school.  Remember: Your committee should be out in the community talking with other parents, alumni, families, and businesses to seek financial support for the school. To help the committee accomplish these goals, there are several things you can do to motivate and support them: 

Hold Regular Meetings

Holding regular committee meetings provides accountability and motivation for the group.  Schedule meetings at least every other month—if not monthly. Include social time in the meetings along with updates on fundraising opportunities, recognition of significant member accomplishments, reports from sub-committees, pep talks, etc. 

Provide Appropriate Materials 

Make sure that parent committee members have the materials they need to successfully raise money on your behalf, including event invitations, raffle tickets, call scripts, brochures, sponsorship letters, etc. 

Track Results 

It is important to track the results of individual committee members so you can offer additional support to those who need it, recognize those who are putting in extra effort, and know who to promote into leadership positions on the committee. 

While tracking results, avoid calling out and embarrassing people who aren't meeting their goals. Instead, talk to them privately and ask if they need help. If fundraising isn't their thing, figure out a way for them to graciously bow out of the committee. 

Committee Leadership 

Even if the parent committee has a leadership structure in place (chairs, sub-committee chairs, etc.), it is up to the school's development staff to drive the committee forward, run the meetings, track progress, gather materials, etc. Parents and other volunteers can be busy with work, family activities, and other distractions. Despite their best intentions, things can slip through the cracks. Don’t rely solely on volunteers to lead the committee—no matter how committed they are—and always have a staff member available to lead and motivate.  

A parent fundraising committee can provide a huge boost to your school's fundraising efforts.  Follow the tips in this article to build a committee that will help supercharge your development program.

About the Author

Joe Garecht

Joe Garecht is a non-profit fundraising consultant, author, and speaker and the founder of Garecht Fundraising Associates and The Fundraising Authority. He has almost 20 years experience in fundraising as a development director, executive director, and consultant. As the executive director of Business Leadership Organized for Catholic Schools (BLOCS), Joe led the effort to raise $50 million in endowments for individual schools, raised $4 million yearly in scholarship funds, and modernized and professionalized the fundraising capabilities of over 175 parochial schools in the Philadelphia region. You can find Joe online at Garecht.com.

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