• Linda Lysakowski, ACFRE

So, Who’s Going to Run Your Campaign? Part 1

Updated: Aug 10, 2019


Your organization’s CEO will have an important role to play in the campaign, as will the development staff and other staff members in your organization. In particular, development staff and the CEO will need to clear their schedules to devote sufficient time to the campaign. In many cases, temporary staff might be needed to manage the campaign. Even with a top-notch staff, a consultant is generally engaged to provide the specialized skills a campaign requires. A consultant helps ensure that campaign timelines are met.

Executive Leadership

The CEO’s role in your campaign is critical. It is essential that your CEO is willing and able to devote sufficient time to the process of identifying, cultivating, and soliciting donors. It is also important for the CEO to motivate and inspire campaign leaders. And, of course, the CEO is expected to make an early financial commitment to the campaign to inspire others to get on board.

How long has your organization’s senior executive officer been with your organization (in any capacity)?

If your CEO unexpectedly leaves in the middle of a campaign, the effects can be detrimental. Even if the departure has been planned, it can send the wrong message to your donors. It is critical to have a succession plan in place, and if the departure involves a termination of the CEO for cause, a crisis plan might be needed.

Answer these questions about the tenure of your CEO:

  • Our CEO will remain CEO for the duration of the campaign.

  • Our CEO is likely to retire or leave the organization before this campaign is completed.

  • We have a succession plan in place if our CEO leaves during the campaign.

Some additional things to ask:

  • Does your CEO need to be educated in capital campaigns and the role of the CEO in a campaign?

  • If you asked your CEO to recite your organization’s mission statement, how accurate would it be?

  • How do you perceive the fundraising comfort level of your senior executive officer?

  • Is your CEO aware of the need for, and committed to, allocating 50 percent or more of the work week to the campaign?

Staff Engagement

Your organization’s entire staff should be informed of the campaign early in the planning phase. It will be important to have your staff support the campaign financially and otherwise, again, to show the community that your organization is truly committed to this campaign.

If you have not been conducting an annual staff appeal, some of these questions may result in negative answers. Don’t despair-this campaign is a perfect time to introduce staff giving to your organization. Leaders at nonprofit organizations often feel that it is inappropriate to invite the staff to participate financially in fund drives. However, employees of nonprofits are generally committed to the organizations for which they work and should be provided an opportunity to show their commitment by participating in campaigns and other fundraising appeals.

What percentage of senior staff made a financial contribution to your organization last year?

Conducting an ongoing annual staff appeal helps employees feel they are part of your organization’s success. It also helps lay the groundwork for a campaign. Offering payroll deduction is a great way to encourage staff members to support your organization. In future blogs, we’ll cover the role of the consultant and the role of development staff.

Buy my books: Capital Campaigns: Everything You NEED to Know, and Are You Ready for a Capital Campaign? Find the Amazon links at www.LindaLysakowski.com.