Parent Talk | Succession Planning in Fundraising

fundraising planning


Fundraising Planning: ‘Success’ion planning in fundraising

The advice below first appeared as a Fundraising Directory ‘Tip of the Week’ (which you can subscribe to free at and was extremely well received. I have added a couple of points here based on some reader questions.

Successful fundraising is simply not possible without a team of dedicated volunteers. This team, like any team, needs renewal in order to be sustainable.

When you are involved in fundraising over a long time, you develop a lot of knowledge. You have more experience than the eager new faces on the block. It can seem easier to continue to ‘do it yourself’ and just use these new volunteers in a supporting role. This is particularly so when you still enjoy what you do and have a lot to give.

I speak from experience here.

I have been the vice-president (in charge of fundraising) for the P&C at my children’s school for six years. Over that time, the revenue from our fete has nearly quadrupled – from 25K to nearly $100K (of course I don’t take sole credit for that – we had a truly fantastic team) and the revenue from other fundraising activities has doubled. We have become quite the well-oiled fundraising machine.

I still enjoy it, and I still have a lot to give (even with the impending arrival of baby #5!).

This year, however, I could see that we had a new wave of volunteers with a lot of fresh energy and enthusiasm. Knowing how important it is to have renewal (I’ve written about it for long enough!), I felt that it was time to let go, step aside and let someone else take over.

Even more important than the symbolic gesture of stepping aside is the importance of truly ‘letting go’ – resisting the temptation to micromanage the new team into doing things exactly the way you did. There is no one right way to do things, and people need to add their own flair.

Instead, we veterans will sit on the sidelines, front up as manpower for the sausage sizzles and raffle tickets, and occasionally yell out helpful advice from the sidelines (I have a mental image of Statler and Waldorf – the two grumpy old men from the Muppets hahaha).

A secondary issue arises for those willing to step up but find the longtimers are unwilling to make room for them. You certainly don’t want them feeling as though they are being ‘pushed aside’, and they no doubt feel as though they are doing their very best for the team.

My advice is to share this article with them and to let them know that you are prepared to have a turn at leading. Let them know you will no doubt make mistakes in the learning phase but hopefully with the combined knowledge still contained within the community, these can be kept to a minimum.

They can then be free to become an important pillar of wisdom. It is simply important in a volunteer team to allow as many ‘leaders’ as possible to have a turn – not only to develop future leaders, but to build a strong, capable volunteer base.

For we veterans, to ‘retire’ before we run out of energy is possibly the biggest gift we can give at this stage. Let us pass on our lovely handover notes, get out of the way and just ‘be there’ with our strategic wisdom and advice.

Happy fundraising!

Mandy Weidmann