Capital Campaigns: You Don’t Have to Go at It Alone
Capital campaigns can be lonely and scary. It’s easy to wake up in the middle of the night, worrying about whether the big gifts that must anchor your campaign will come in as you have planned. You probably worry about whether you’ve made the right decisions about all sorts of things.
And if you’re like most people, you may quietly worry about whether you’re good enough or smart enough or knowledgeable enough to pull it off.
It’s one thing to plan and pull off a successful gala or a golf tournament; it’s quite another to plan and execute a successful capital campaign.
Campaigns from beginning to end take three years or even more. The stakes are very high. Your biggest donors and organizational leaders are involved and expect you to know what you’re doing and to do it well.
It’s no wonder that even the most senior and experienced development people fret. But you don’t have to face it all alone. In fact, you shouldn’t.
Do These 3 Things to Ensure You’re Not Alone
Here are three important things you can do to give yourself the resources and support you need through a campaign.
1. Hire a consultant who fits your style.
Make sure you’re an active part of the selection process for the consultant who will work on your campaign. During the selection process, you will, of course, make sure the consultant you choose has the experience and knowledge to guide you and your campaign.
But that’s not all you should look for.
Look for someone you will feel comfortable calling and relying on for guidance. Make sure you have ample direct access to the consultant. And develop a contract with the consultant that’s not based on an hourly rate. That’ll enable you to contact your consultant when you need help without worrying that you’re running up the bill.
2. Engage a coach just for YOU.
These days, coaches are common in the workplace and in people’s personal lives. They no longer serve a remedial function. Instead, they help you become your best self. A coach serves as a trained sounding board who can help you think through the complex issues—both personal and professional—you will undoubtedly face.
The International Coach Federation is one of the premier coaching organizations. You might take a look at their site for more understanding of how a coach might work with you. Capital Campaign Masters offers pre-campaign coaching as well. Learn all about it here, and get in touch if you’d like to learn more.
I have used (and continue to use) personal coaches. I don’t work with a coach steadily, but now and again, I go back to my coach and she helps me see myself and my situation more clearly and gives me guidance in how to move forward.
It’s well worth the investment.
3. Find a professional mentor.
You may also find it helpful to develop an informal relationship with someone you look up to in the field. Ask that person if you might call them when you need advice.
I owe the success of my capital campaign career to the several mentors who, over a period of years, shared their wisdom and experience with me when I needed it. To this day, I’m grateful to them.
Prioritize Your Health and Well Being
On a final note, remember that your ability to function at a high level over an extended period depends on your health and well being. A campaign is not the time to let yourself go. Prioritize the things that are good for you and that you enjoy doing. The time you spend taking care of yourself will make you more efficient and effective. It will be time well spent.
Working at the edge…
Capital campaigns will push you to the edge of your abilities. Through the process, you will learn and grow in wonderful ways that might well pave the way for your next career. So invest in yourself to make sure you come through with flying colors.
Andrea Kihlstedt is an innovative leader and expert in capital campaign fundraising. She wrote "Capital Campaigns: Strategies That Work (4th ed)," often referred to as the “bible” of capital campaign fundraising. She founded Capital Campaign Masters and co-founded Capital Campaign Toolkit, an online capital campaign resource and platform.