February 2021

Member query:

We are thinking of creating an advisory board to engage some of our larger donors and others in our region. What are some of the issues we need to think through?


Reply from Cathy Trower:

Advisory boards to engage donors and others in your region can be a great idea.
While I am not a fundraising expert, here are some things to think through:

  1. Write a purpose statement (description of this group’s role, responsibilities, and activities). In that description, be sure to distinguish this “advisory” board from other groups – especially the Board of Trustees.
  2. Specify meeting frequency, guidelines for membership (as well as for removal), and performance expectations—be clear about what you expect from members.
  3. Consider the name carefully. You might want to call this group “Friends of SCHOOL NAME” rather than “Advisory Board.”
  4. Ensure effective leadership of this group. Whomever chairs the group should be experienced in fundraising and leadership.
  5. Carefully consider the characteristics of group membership.
  6. Think through how you will gauge the group’s success. While you do not need to have strict performance criteria and formal measurement, you do want to ensure that the people who serve in this fashion feel valued and are not wasting their time.
  7. Ensure that your bylaws refer to the role of advisory bodies, including this one.