I've been working for nonprofits since 1991, and I believe in the work they do and want them to be successful. I have coached many organizations regarding committee recruitment and retention and I was very sad to hear my colleague tell me the story. I immediately thought, the organization should have answered their own questions BEFORE the recruitment conversation with my colleague took place. Would they want his event donation to be above and beyond his annual gift as a Board Member? What If he couldn't do both?
Next, I would have suggested that the organization have a frank conversation with my colleague about expectations. Any committee member recruited should go into their committee service knowing what will be expected of them on the committee and beyond. The committee member should have the chance to express his/her abilities and limitations. Unfortunately, in this case, these detailed and candid conversations did not take place.
Depending on how badly the organization needs the person to serve on the committee, they might have to let the annual gift go if the committee prospect can't do both. It's better to keep the donor for the long-term. My colleague who served as Gala Chair should now be helping to build relationships with the attendees and donors he brought in. Now, not only is he lost, but so are those that came with him.
As nonprofits start this new year, I hope they will build up relationships with their board members, key committee members, important donors and others not tear them down.