Fundraising Tip – Make your committee a ‘safe’ place for bad ideas

Fundraising Ideas – the Bad, the Good and the Genius

One thing I have noticed repeatedly in my many years of fundraising is that the most effective committees are those that are creative and make great ideas.

These types of committees will come up with great ideas to make their fundraiser stand out, but also those little ideas to make the most out of every fundraising opportunity. There is one feature common to these creative committees and that is that they are positive and safe environments for members to ‘throw ideas around’. Keeping in mind that you’re not always going to find the ‘gold’ straight away and often you will have to sift through the dirt first, if you create a safe environment, you may end up being pleasantly rewarded.

And here is the crux of this tip:

Unless people feel safe to voice a ‘bad’ idea, you’ll never unearth the really good ones.

If you want to encourage new members to join your committee, you need to ensure that you clearly communicate that ALL suggestions are valued. No one wants to attend committee meetings where new ideas are not welcome because ‘that’s the way it’s always been done’. This type of scenario (although unfortunately all too common) often re-enforces the stereotype of the ‘clicky’ committee and will potentially cost your group some great ideas as well as some great profits! There is nothing more demoralising to a ‘newbie’ who clearly wants to be involved, than having their idea – be it good or bad – shot down in flames, without consideration.

I personally am a creative person – prolific with ideas.  I fully admit that 80% of these are average, 10% are complete duds, and 10% are (forgive the lack of modesty) pure genius 😉  If I didn’t feel safe to give voice to the whole range of ideas, you would be left with only the mediocre ones.  (There are other ways for committees to process the bad ideas to stop them in their tracks.)

Please keep this in mind the next time you hear a terrible idea at a fundraising meeting.  There is value in creating a culture that welcomes them.


It’s one thing to come up with great ideas, but it’s important not to forget to reward those good ideas as well. Not only will this show your appreciation and acknowledge the good ideas, but it will also encourage future good ideas as well.

Now, I’m not saying that you have to have a parade with a marching band down your main street – although if the idea warrants that, then go for it!  Recognition can be public or private and it could be a tangible item. The choice is yours, but make sure you think about what will mean something to the recipient.

Here are a few subtle and not so subtle, and some fun ideas:

  • adding their photo to a ‘wall of fame’
  • thank you on assembly
  • bottle of wine
  • bunch of flowers
  • vouchers – movies, dinner, coffee
  • a simple thank you note
  • a perpetual trophy (of course it doesn’t have to be a real one, plastic is fine)
  • a massage
  • family thank you (write a thank you card to the whole family telling them how much you appreciate your colleague)
  • give them a mention in your newsletter
  • certificate of appreciation
  • find out what their hobbies are and theme your thank you based on that
  • end of year or event wrap up team lunch or dinner

Happy Fundraising,

Mandy Weidmann

Originally published 9 November, 2016

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