Ask 20 people for an idea on a fundraiser and guess what you are going to get? Probably 20 different ideas! That can make it tough to reach a starting point for your fundraiser.
Even if you are the leader of a fundraising project, you have to defer to the opinions of others. In many cases, reaching a consensus on any matter is very difficult; often, a plethora of ideas – even really great ideas – just leads to disagreements and arguing. People become fixated on getting their way, and lose sight of the bigger picture.
Having a room full of disagreeing fundraising volunteers can make it seem impossible to pull off a successful fundraiser, but if you hone your leadership skills, you can pull your group back together and still have a very successful fundraiser.
Don’t Take It Personal
Most fundraising volunteers have a personal stake in the group they are fundraising for. So it’s natural that they might get emotionally invested, and possibly slip into disagreement. Usually, the problem is that too many people are taking things personally, fighting more for their own ideas than for the best ideas. If you can make your fellow fundraising volunteers see that that is what’s happening, you might strike a chord and get things back on track.
When making your point, though, be careful not to be too judgmental or accusational. Speak in general terms to all, offer a few motivational words to remind people why you are all in this, and ask people to keep an open mind about the ideas of others.
Also, don’t let yourself take things too personally. Accept that disagreement is part of the process, not always a reflection of poor leadership, and take confidence in the fact that your fundraiser should come off better for taking the time needed to make good decisions.
Some Tips To Ease Fundraising Disagreements
The big task is to bring everybody back to a common ground. Show them the problems that are facing your organization, as well as the problems the disagreements are creating within the group. Hold a meeting or send out a letter and appeal to everyone’s good nature. Then, open up the conversation and follow the majority rule.
• Poll the group to put all the ideas on the table
• Open up the conversation, but insist in civil discussion. No personal attacks are to be allowed.
• If someone really can’t participate in a civil manner, ask them to leave the group; you do not need that kind of ‘help’.
• Take a vote to make major decisions, and go with the majority vote (not necessarily a majority of voters, but a majority of votes)
• If all else fails, pull a hat trick and randomly choose your fundraiser.
For a really divisive group, consider enlisting the help of a neutral third party.
• Ask a respected community or organization member to come in, listen to the group, and make a decision in the best interest of the group. Explain to the group who is coming in and why, and explain that the decision of the mediator is final.
• Consider hiring a professional fundraising consultant
• Defer to the opinion of your fundraising company. Explain the many options, details about your group size, membership, volunteer base, and your financial goal, and ask what the fundraising company recommends.
Dealing with a much divided group of fundraising volunteers is not easy, but with good management of the situation, you can save your fundraising program. The key is to always aim to keep the focus of the group on the needs of the group, and not on the egos of individuals.