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Fundraising Idea of the Month:
Committee Manual

by Doug Nash

Survival and a smooth continuity are two of the biggest problems facing a charitable organisation. Raising funds to do charitable work is hard enough and to continue on an annual basis can be even harder. A committee manual is one step you can take to help ease this problem and in the process help future members not only to continue the work but help increase the returns for their efforts. It is an essential help and guide to new members who have had no previous experience on boards or committees.

This helps the momentum of the organisation to flow over election periods or when individuals retire and are replaced. It also helpful when recruiting new members, applying for grants or others financial income and organising new or annual events.

One of the silent yet most powerful assets an organisation can have is the experience and knowledge of it's current and past member- a compilation of the organisations' activities and those involved. To fully utilize these assets you must have it recorded in an orderly manner, either in books, loosely bound folders or on computer file. The committee manual is this orderly written record of this information held in such a manner that those who need to avail themselves of such an asset know of it and have full access to it. The committee manual is a deposit of knowledge that can either make or break a years' work, it can avoid mistakes in the present and future by knowing what has happened in the past, what has happened to other similar groups or other groups that conducted similar activities to that proposed.

The manual should be in two parts- current and archival. This facilitates quick and easy access to relevant information when needed. The manual should also allow addition to and removal of some information on an annual basis, from current to archival. Implement an annual `spring cleaning' in regard to your organisations' cycle, i.e. just before or after annual elections of office bearers.

You should include as much information as you consider appropriate to your needs and organisation. such as:

  • Names, addresses and phone numbers of all the elected members and position holders.
  • Calendar for the year.
  • All correspondence, in and out, and communications in regard to your organisation for the past seven years including all memos, newsletters and minutes of each meeting.
  • Constitution and by-laws.
  • All reports of past activities, either social, fundraising or on projects.
  • All previous budgets, income and expenditure.
  • Presidents reports on the previous year with suggestions for future improvement.
  • Any other material that is considered relevant and useful to the successful future of the organisation.
  • List of members resources

Having a volunteer or volunteer group, under the guidance of the secretary, to ensure that the manual is kept current, accurate and safe is a vital step. The people allowed to maintain the manual should be reliable and of proven discretion. Some of the information held in a manual is of a sensitive nature, like financial and private donation records, and not just public knowledge. Most of the knowledge is of public record, constitutions and procedures, and should not pose any problems in accumulating.

Compile a list of members' resources by asking the members what they can offer that best suits their situation. For some it will be donating money, for others they can give of their time. Some may be able to occasionally provide professional services, experience or contacts. You won't know until you ask them either verbally or by questionnaire. This helps you maximise the input from members, helping them feel included and recognised. You may also surprise yourself when you discover the hidden talents and values some of your members' posses that you would not have known until you asked. You owe it to your organisation to find out these hidden treasures and have them recorded for their timely and proper use.


    About the Author: Doug Nash lives in Logan City in Queensland, Australia. He has graciously consented to share a fundraising idea with us every month. Although many of the ideas aren't new, each of them has a unique flair that comes from being developed and refined half a world away from ours. Visit his web site at for more fundraising ideas.

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