Creating An Advisory Council

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    A recent email posed the question:

    I am the Director of Philanthropy for a small nonprofit foundation. Our Board of Directors and committees are all comprised of physicians. I am beginning to build a lay component and am working on developing a Development Advisory Council – made up of lay members. I am looking to create a job description for this group the purpose of which is to expand our lay base and raise money. We are also having discussions on whether the Foundation should pay for travel and expenses. I am having difficulty with the advisory council description. Can you help guide me in the right direction?

    1. Since it’s all about perception, a director of philanthropy is seen as the person whose job it is to raise money; a director of advancement is understood to be working to help advance the mission of the organization.. (In addition, the D.O.P. title is more than a little pretentious !!)

    2. An Advisory Council is created to provide advice. If you ask people to join such a group, you’d better be prepared to take their advice. If the primary purposes are to broaden the base of non-physicians and raise money, then call it just a Development Council or Advancement Council.

    3. An essential question you must be able to answer is: Why would any non-physician want to be part of such a “council”? And the answer should probably not have anything to do with your Foundation.

    4. If this volunteer group you’re assembling will be constituted to raise money, then one can assume that they have the money to set an example. With that as a given, they should also pay their own expenses.

    5. I don’t know the difference between your development committee and the soon-to-be-created council. So I can’t offer a lot in the way of suggestions regarding a job description. I would say, however, keep it simple — i.e., The mission of this “council” is to help provide the resources needed to pursue the Foundation’s mission by providing direct support to the Foundation and encouraging others to do the same.

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