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By April 30, 2015May 28th, 2015All Posts, Insights, News You Can Use
News You Can Use
Issue 133/January 2014

How to Guarantee Success in the Selection of Campaign Volunteers


mary-ellen-clarkMary Ellen Clark
Senior Vice President  

The success of fundraising campaigns hinges on leadership, and that leadership starts with the Board. Board members are the campaign solicitors of first and last resort. They are the most important fundraising resource of the organization. There is no greater strength in a fundraising campaign than a Board ready and willing to lead. However, a Board that sees fundraising as someone else’s job highlights its greatest weakness.
Far too many Board members are reluctant fundraisers. They’re quick to claim they don’t have the time, feel uncomfortable “begging,” don’t have the right contacts or didn’t sign on to be fundraisers – that’s for the staff. Does that mean we have the wrong people on our Boards?   No.

We find that many organizations are careful to outline the mission of the organization and discuss staff and future plans, but fail to outline the fundraising role of their Board membership.  While each may have been initially nominated because of his/her background, experience or success with other organizations, we will soon find ourselves with individuals who find themselves unsuccessful as a Board member and declining a second term. 

The organization should include the following in its “blueprint” for attracting, developing and retaining successful Board members:

  • Make the fundraising expectation clear at the time a person is asked to serve.
  • Provide Board members with the tools and assistance needed to raise money.
  • Keep members well informed of the operational and financial efficiencies so that they can understand the organization’s importance and necessity.
  • Create a mentor relationship between new and experienced Board members.

In planning for a capital campaign, the organization needs to define the project, develop the case for support and the budget, measure internal and external readiness and decide on outside counsel.  Critical next steps include recruiting volunteer leadership. The natural first considerations are members of the organization’s Board.  This is when your recruitment, development and cultivation of the right Board members pays off for the organization.  Turn to your Board for their leadership, contacts and understanding of the fundraising process for a successful campaign. 

To further discuss ways to increase your Board’s fundraising capacity or educating and training capital campaign volunteers, contact me directly at

Supporting Support Staff During a Capital Campaign

heather-ehlertHeather Ehlert 
Director of Development +
Senior Consultant 

“Supporting support staff…” Does that phrase sound like a bit of an oxymoron?  Typically, we think of support or administrative staff as being there to support the fundraisers and managers of the development office.  They handle the internal clerical and administrative activities (not always exciting) that support the external relationship-building activities with volunteers and donors (often exciting!).  While we readily acknowledge these roles and responsibilities are important (critical, if we’re being totally honest with ourselves,) we would probably also concede they are not the most glamorous pursuits, especially during the excitement of a capital campaign.  And does that mean we sometimes take those roles and the people fulfilling them for granted?

Here are some simple steps you can take (both tangible and intangible) that will help you support your support staff during your capital campaign:

  • Provide education about what a campaign is and how it works (don’t assume they already know.)  Review everything from mechanics to intricacies.  Share goals, budgets, timelines, org charts, job descriptions, strategies and tactics of the campaign.
  • Stress the importance of a professional campaign office.  While a lot of campaign activity happens outside the office, you never know when a volunteer or prospective donor may pay a visit.  Enact good office practices, respect confidentially and always exhibit a friendly, helpful atmosphere.
  • Clearly outline roles and responsibilities during a campaign:  Establishing and managing systems, including the donor database and other tracking mechanisms of the campaign
    • Helping manage the campaign calendar
    • Scheduling meetings and making meeting reminder calls
    • Assembling solicitor packets
    • Preparing newsletters and other mailings
    • Taking detailed notes at meetings
    • Producing lists, reports and other data on a timely basis
    • Helping prepare the case statement and other campaign collateral
  • Share information and updates, not just to-do lists.  Describe a great cultivation visit or committee meeting, or be open about some challenges you’re facing.
  • Invite them to participate.  Include support staff in strategy and brainstorming sessions.  They may bring a valuable perspective and/or relationships to the campaign.
  • Familiarize them with the case for support and work with them to create their own “elevator speech.”  Everyone in your organization can advocate for the campaign and help create strong external messaging.  
  • Say thank you.  While campaigns are fun and exciting, they still entail more work for everyone.  Acknowledge that extra work, and make sure everyone feels appreciated.
  • Celebrate success. Gather the office together as a team, on a regular basis, to talk about accomplishments and progress.  Encourage every staff person to share a success story. 

When support staff understand their roles and responsibilities, remain closely involved and are recognized and appreciated for their contributions throughout the entire campaign, your team will be stronger.  Your campaign will be more successful.  And the experience will truly be exciting and rewarding…for everyone.

To further discuss how your entire resource development team can achieve fundraising success, contact me directly at

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