Fundraising campaigns require volunteer leadership. It is an honor and a privilege to be asked. It is also a responsibility. While you may have a reputation as a “super hero” in the community, leading a fundraising campaign requires groundwork that you alone cannot build. Here are 12 things you need to be curious about before you say yes or no.
- Does the institution have a campaign plan? Is the proposed fundraising campaign an outgrowth of the strategic plan, or is it tied to the strategic plan?
- What will the campaign raise money for and what is the projected impact, both quantitatively and qualitatively?
- Has the institution prepared a campaign case for support?
- What has been the institution’s prior fundraising history and results?
- Has a budget been developed to support the campaign?
- Is there complete buy-in from the institution’s leadership, especially at the executive and board levels? Is staff aware that a campaign is being planned?
- Has a decision been made regarding who will be the target audience the institution seeks to solicit? This could include corporations, businesses, foundations, individuals, alumni (if an educational institution), or grateful patients (if a healthcare organization)
- Have prospective donors or funders been identified who could provide the largest gifts to the campaign. These are typically referred to as “lead gifts.”
- What is the skill set and experience level of staff as it relates to fundraising in general and running a campaign in specific?
- How does the marketplace feel about the proposed campaign? Has a feasibility study been conducted to assess individual and collective responses to the proposed campaign?
- Is there a written “job description” that makes clear the responsibilities of the campaign leader? Are there such descriptions for staff, board members, and other volunteers?
- What are the resources available to help assure success?
Be sure to ask all these questions. If the responses give you confidence be sure to ask the last one: you need to know what resources are available to support the campaign. Listen closely to see which of the following are in place or available: grant writing, marketing, social media, event planning, training and orientation, PowerPoint presentations and videos, direct mail, a pool of volunteers… You have been asked to lead the campaign because people believe in your leadership skills and abilities. Your first step in demonstrating these is asking questions and ensuring you have the resources you will need.
Asking questions will help you be successful. Even if you say “no,” the fact that you asked specific questions will help raise the bar for campaign success. There is a lot to consider when planning for a campaign and it is highly likely that some aspects of campaign planning might not have been fully considered or completed.
Some will recall the saying, “Curiosity killed the cat.” We close with these words, “A lack of curiosity can kill a campaign.”
Copyright 2019 – Mel and Pearl Shaw