Every successful capital campaign I’ve seen has created volunteer leadership committees that laid the groundwork for their success.
Below you’ll find a simple rundown of what you should know about the three primary committees you’ll want for your campaign.
Why Campaign Volunteers Matter
- Volunteers can do a huge amount of important work, including soliciting campaign gifts.
- You can recruit people who are wealthy and powerful but not on your board for short-term involvement that’ll make all the difference.
- People who volunteer are much more likely to give and give more.
3 Essential Capital Campaign Committees
Most campaigns start with what I call a Core Committee.
Your Core Committee is a small group of people, perhaps 4 or 5, who come together to figure out how to get your campaign going.
Most commonly, it’ll include the board chair, the executive director, the development director, and a couple of board members or volunteers who have sparked the project your campaign will fund.
The Core Committee does the preliminary campaign planning:
- They clarify what the campaign will raise money for.
- They’ll develop a preliminary working goal.
- They craft an early version of the case for support.
- And in some cases, they’ll organize the selection process for a campaign consultant.
But most important, these are the people who’ll figure out who to enlist on the campaign planning committee.
This small group of insiders often functions as a brain trust or “kitchen cabinet” throughout the campaign with the addition of a few others as the structure builds.
Campaign Planning Committee
This committee will include the members of the core committee but will also include the most powerful, wealthiest, wisest and most influential volunteers you have.
Most often this group will have 12 to 16 members. Any smaller and the responsibility is not shared broadly enough. Any larger and the members don’t feel fully engaged.
The people on this committee will set the tone and standard for the entire campaign. It only comes together for a few meetings. Overseeing the campaign is the job of the campaign steering committee.
What’s their job?
- They help shape the campaign plan.
- They review the goal, the gift chart, the draft case for support, the donor recognition plan and the campaign timetable.
- They might also review donor lists.
- And they lend their names to the campaign.
In many cases, I’ve seen the very top campaign gifts come out of this planning committee group.
If you don’t have a “fundraising board,” putting together a very strong campaign planning committee will be one of the most important things you do to make your campaign successful!
Campaign Steering Committee
Once the work of the campaign planning committee is done, you’ll form a campaign steering committee to oversee the campaign from the early phase through to the end.
This group is about the same size as the planning committee. You may ask some the campaign planning committee members to serve on the steering committee. But some will drop off and you may add some new people.
This group will meet regularly — perhaps 4 or 6 times/year — to monitor the campaign’s progress and suggest course corrections.
The people who serve on the steering committee are often the most effective solicitors for the campaign. Not only will they contribute themselves, but they will be effective advocates.
A Host of Other Committees
While these are the three primary committees, you’ll have plenty of opportunities to engage volunteers to help with other aspects of the campaign. They might help with campaign communications, planning campaign events, and soliciting gifts, to name just a few.
Often, the people who are on one of these basic three committees wind up leading various small, task-based committees.
IMPORTANT! Here’s a final crucial note about your campaign volunteers…
Make Sure All Committee Members Make a Generous Gift
Everyone you ask to serve as a campaign volunteer should be willing to make a generous gift to the campaign. And no one likes to be surprised about a thing like that.
So be sure to tell your volunteers they will be expected to give when you ask them to serve.
I promise you, if someone turns you down because they don’t want to make a campaign gift, you don’t want them on your committee!
The gifts your campaign volunteers make to the campaign will play a powerful — even critical — role in getting your campaign off to a great start.