Preparing for a Successful Capital Campaign: Volunteer Roles and Responsibilities

capital campaigns Feb 23, 2021

In my opinion, volunteer campaign leadership is the single most important factor in campaign success. The right campaign chair can inspire volunteers, donors, board members, and staff. Volunteers bring to the table contacts, cash, and clout. Choose your volunteer leadership wisely because volunteers can make or break your campaign.

Campaign Leadership

It will be vital to recruit a potential campaign chair or co-chairs with all the following qualities:

  • Passion for your need or organization
  • Willingness to make a leadership gift or one that will stretch the individual’s normal giving pattern
  • Positive influence with people of wealth
  • Time to devote to the campaign
  • Leadership skills

Sometimes campaign leadership is recruited too early because organizations want to get moving with the campaign. Caution: think through who would make the best chair for your campaign. Review the list of qualities above and then determine whether:

  • You have identified one or more people who have all these qualities, and those who have been identified have agreed to serve in this capacity.
  • You have identified one or more people who have most or all these qualities but have not yet asked these people to serve in this capacity.
  • You have not yet identified anyone with either most or all these qualities.
  • You have already asked someone who possesses some, but not all, of these qualities to serve as your campaign chair.

Recruiting and Working with Capital Campaign Volunteers

Capital campaign volunteers are a critical component of a successful campaign. So, where do you find these volunteers, and how do you manage the process? The names acquired during the planning study are a good place to start. You can begin by recruiting campaign cabinet members who displayed an interest in the project or were suggested by interviewers. Then add to the list of potential volunteers through strategy meetings with the board, staff, and consultants.

Remember that the campaign chair, co-chairs, or office of the chair is the most critical role in the campaign. This person or these persons must be selected carefully and should be able to inspire, motivate, and lead the rest of the campaign cabinet to success. Here are some steps to follow in recruiting volunteer leadership for your campaign:

  • Always have a job description for every volunteer.
  • Develop the job description first, and then find the right person to fill each role.
  • Once the job descriptions are in place and a list of potential volunteers to fill each position is in place, develop a volunteer recruitment packet with the job description, the campaign timeline, the campaign organizational chart, the case for support, and other pertinent information about the organization and the campaign.
  • Select the campaign cabinet members and provide them with suggestions for volunteers for their committees based on suggestions received in the planning study, from the strategy sessions, and from other cabinet members.
  • Hold regularly scheduled campaign cabinet meetings at times and locations that are convenient for most of the cabinet members. Meetings are usually monthly unless your campaign will run three years or more, in which case you might opt for bi-monthly or quarterly cabinet meetings.
  • Insist on training and ongoing report meetings for volunteers who will solicit donors during the period in which these volunteers will be actively soliciting for the campaign.
  • Provide a fundraising mentor for committee members who are newer at fundraising.
  • Stay in close contact with volunteers through e-mails and phone calls to update them on campaign news, inquire on the status of their calls, and inform them of anything that causes a change in the campaign plan.
  • Set up a special website page just for campaign volunteers so they can stay on top of campaign development conveniently and throughout the campaign.

It will usually take hundreds of volunteers to run a capital campaign, unless your campaign is small or narrowly focused. You will need a job description for each of these volunteers, and you will need to provide campaign training for them. There is a tool to help you plan for volunteer recruitment in my book, Are You Ready for a Capital Campaign.

To learn more about capital campaigns and the important role of volunteers in your campaign, take my course, Capital Campaigns: Yes, You CAN Do It. Sign up here


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