11. Recruit Campaign Leadership Wisely

Even if you have a huge development staff, you will need a large group of volunteers to implement a comprehensive capital campaign. The right team of volunteers will help you open new donor doors, build organizational capacity, and ensure you will meet your campaign goal. Many a conundrum has developed in a campaign because of ineffective leadership. From campaign chair to committee/team chairs to your committees/team members, you must recruit capable, faithful, loyal, and committed workers. Encourage these leaders to own your campaign. Recruit the brightest and the best volunteers just as you recruit the brightest and the best donors, then train them to help you succeed.

Ron Wellman, Wake Forest University Athletic Director, made this profound statement, “Our mission statement is to excel in everything we do because we have the resources to embrace that. We expect to challenge for Atlantic Coast Conference titles and that in turn will make us competitive nationally.” The secret to Wake’s success? “Hiring good coaches and keeping them,” Wellman says. “If you have that in place, it will be reflected in the teams you produce. Sometimes a team falls short of its coach, but I’ve never seen a team outperform its coach .”

By the same token, it will be difficult to outperform the quality of the volunteer leadership dedicated to your campaign effort. Use the Wake Forest model. Recruit wisely and empower them to help you perform your campaign tasks.

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We have worked on a campaign with more than one hundred campaign volunteers and one that recruited and trained two hundred volunteers. These volunteers all had job descriptions and functioned under the able leadership of good advancement staff and very engaged volunteer leadership.

Steve Wilson, the advancement director at Lakeland Christian School (LCS), reflected on his successful campaign, “Pat, we have great material, a good plan, excellent training, and mentoring by the Timothy Group but the key to our success is our campaign leadership. Your Timothy Group campaign manual provided comprehensive job descriptions for our campaign volunteers.” We identified several key volunteers in their pre-campaign study, but Steve handpicked his leadership team. “We have recruited committed community leaders and they are winners,” Steve said. “They have not failed in their lives and businesses and will not allow our campaign to fail. These people have placed their personal and professional reputations on the line with us, and their names are printed in the campaign material.”

The LCS campaign was very volunteer-driven, not just staff-driven. They used three different volunteer campaign leaders to make financial requests for three separate seven-figure gifts. For Steve, it has been all about recruiting the right leaders and inspiring them to not just talk about the campaign but to get active and make it happen. These trained, empowered volunteers took ownership with Steve and headmaster Dr. Mike Sligh for their capital campaign success.

For more guidance about choosing the best and the brightest volunteers, contact Pat at pmclaughlin@timothygroup.com.

About the Author: Pat McLaughlin President/Founder – Pat started The Timothy Group in 1990 to serve Christian ministries as they raise money to advance their missions. TTG has assisted more 1,800 Christian organizations around the world with capital, annual, and endowment campaigns. More than 25,000 of Pat’s books, Major Donor Game Plan, The C Factor: The Common Cure for your Capital Campaign Conundrums, and Haggai & Friends have helped fundraisers understand the art and science of major donor engagement. Pat makes more than one hundred major donor visits annually and provides counsel to multiple capital campaigns.

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