So, Who’s Going to Run Your Campaign? Development Staff Role

capital campaigns Feb 23, 2021

The role of the development staff in your capital campaign should not be underestimated. Although not every organization will have a development staff with campaign experience, it is critical that staff can devote sufficient time to the campaign. If your staff is over-involved in planning and managing special events or writing grant proposals or involved in non-development activities, such as programs, finance, or public relations, the campaign will suffer.

Let’s look at the ability of your staff to launch a campaign. The answers to these questions will help you determine what kind of help you will need from a consultant.

  • Does your development staff have campaign experience?
  • How long has your organization’s senior development (fundraising) officer been with your organization (in any capacity)?
  • Have you thought about who will manage the day-to-day campaign operation?

If your development office is staffed by volunteers or is an office with limited staff, you will likely need additional help to manage the campaign. Even if you plan to engage a consultant, many clerical details will need to be managed, such as:

  • Entering pledges and gifts into the database
  • Researching donor history
  • Sending meeting notices and minutes to campaign volunteers
  • Generating campaign reports
  • Communicating with the staff and volunteers about campaign progress
  • Preparing campaign materials
  • Generating direct mail during the later stages of the campaign

If you do not have someone who can handle these tasks, you have several options:

  • Assign a non-development staff person to do them (who will most likely need some training).
  • Ask your consultant to provide support services.
  • Hire a temporary staff person to help with the campaign.

If you are planning to assign a staff person to the campaign, you need to think hard about what you can shift from this person’s regular workload. If this staff member is torn between campaign activities and other familiar, more comfortable duties, it is easy to imagine which duties will be pushed aside!

Is Your Staff Over-extended?

Rate your development staff’s overall ability to meet its existing responsibilities: excellent, good, not very good, no development staff.

Staff Education and Training

It is important that your organization understand the value of investing in its personnel in the form of education and training. How often are training opportunities made available for development staff? Does your organization support the development staff’s membership and active participation in the Association of Fundraising Professionals, CharityChannel, or other similar organizations?

It is important that your organization budget for marketing and the technology to support marketing and development efforts. For example, does it invest in things like computer hardware and software upgrades and updates? Does it employ or engage outside contractors to design professional-looking communications pieces, including your website? Does your organization understand the value of investing in marketing, communications, and appropriate equipment/technology?

Conflicting Priorities

Is your staff free from over-involvement in special events, grant proposal development, marketing, or non-development-related tasks, so that they can focus on the campaign?

If your staff is overwhelmed with other fundraising activities, this will prevent them from devoting sufficient time to the campaign. If your staff does not have sufficient time to devote to the campaign, you may need to hire additional resources or reassign duties among current staff members before launching a campaign.

Campaign Experience

If your organization has run a capital campaign in the past, you will want to draw on that experience. Too often, organizations fail to keep campaign donors and volunteers involved in ongoing development efforts. If you’ve had experience with past campaigns, you can often re-engage volunteers and donors in this and future campaigns. What has been your organization’s experience with a major fundraising campaign? How successful was your organization’s last major fundraising campaign? Do you have records from past campaigns that include donors, volunteers, staffing, and consultants?

After the Campaign

Once your campaign is over and before the glow of success fades, you should think about how your organization can “capitalize” on its success to build a stronger development program and a stronger organization for the future.

One of the major benefits of a successful campaign is that it leaves an organization much stronger than it was before the campaign. The reasons for this are:

  • The campaign starts with an internal assessment, and that assessment will result in recommendations to strengthen the infrastructure of your organization.
  • Increased public relations efforts during a campaign result in a heightened awareness of the organization in the community.
  • Volunteer involvement in the campaign provides future volunteer fundraisers for the organization’s ongoing development efforts.
  • Your staff benefits from working with a consultant and gains knowledge and experience which are assets to them and the organization going forward.

Your entire staff is critical to the success of your campaign. All your staff members should be involved at some level and should be invited to contribute financially and be involved in the management or daily operation of campaign activities.

The development staff, like the CEO, will need to be free from extraneous activities which might take time away from campaign duties. Make sure you have a plan to fully staff your campaign.

If you’ve previously run a campaign, it will be important to assess past results.

To learn more about capital campaigns and the role of development staff and other staff, take my course, Capital Campaigns: Yes, You CAN Do It. Sign up here


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