Honorary Chairs: A Must for Capital Campaign Success
COVID-19 or not, capital campaigns are hard. Typically, staff and consultants are prepared organizationally speaking. Through previous campaign knowledge, fundraising experience and professional knowledge of what each campaign entails, internal elements of the capital campaign puzzle are usually secure. Knowing how to do it utilizing a variety of complex pieces externally is another matter entirely.
Capital campaigns must have volunteers as active participants in leadership roles to not only survive but thrive in attaining larger capital campaign goals. Finding volunteers with the attributes needed for campaign success is not easy, especially securing volunteers with the right capacity, connections and linkage to your organization. It all begins with a plan and focus on how to recruit campaign leadership.
A Capital Campaign Toolkit article notes that a capital campaign plan serves as a pivotal reference point for the capital campaign. Elements of this plan include a timeline for pre-campaign planning, feasibility study, campaign planning, quiet phase, kickoff, public phase and post-campaign. Eleven elements to include in your capital campaign plan are objectives, goals, pattern of gifts needed, donor recognition, structure, staffing, communications, budget, timetable, policies and case for support. Many elements are important to a campaign, but campaign structure must be extremely high on the priority list. You need to determine if you will have co-chairs, honorary chairs, plus other volunteer committees.
A blog by Armstrong McGuire states when planning for a capital campaign, many nonprofits seek to determine if they need a campaign cabinet. A cabinet is a group of passionate volunteers who work collectively over a specific period to generate capital revenue. A cabinet can be led by a chair and may also have honorary chairs or co-chairs. An honorary chair lends their name to the campaign and makes a campaign gift. According to the blog, they must have passion for the organizational mission, have a large circle of influence, have the capacity to make a leadership “statement” gift and engage in several high-level solicitations plus encourage others to do the same.
Currently, it is getting harder to find campaign chairs and honorary chairs, according to Capital Campaign Masters. The reason recruiting is so hard is people are too busy to serve for an extended period, and everyone’s choices have expanded. The expanding number of nonprofits and their need for capital campaign leaders continue. Capital Campaign Masters shares three successful ways you can recruit the right campaign leadership: determining the benefits volunteers will obtain from their campaign service, telling volunteers they will have excellent staff support at all times and letting volunteers know they will be successful. In this regard, recruit at least co-chairs or tri-chairs, and the same applies for honorary chairs. Consider establishing an honorary chair cabinet, and consider having chairs for various phases of a campaign. Many people do not serve for fear of failure and being engaged for extremely long periods of time. Your external campaign leadership will determine if the campaign succeeds or fails. In advance of the campaign, make sure you have a solid list of potentially successful chairs and honorary chairs in mind.
An education series by the Sheridan Group has provided excellent insight on securing the right capital campaign chair and role of the honorary campaign chair. It is continually pointed out that the success of a campaign depends upon recruiting a strong leadership team. At the top of the list is obtaining the campaign chair. This position must recruit and solicit the leadership gifts committee, act as the public campaign spokesperson and lead. The chair must be an outstanding community leader who has time for the effort, a strategic thinker and a lead donor.
The chair must also determine if a co-chair scenario would work for them. Consideration should also be given to couples as co-chairs if they have the right characteristics for the job. The chair must have the capacity to give, interest in giving, and have contacts and leadership capability. Consideration must also be given to the recruitment of at least one honorary chair. As stated previously, the honorary chair must be known in the community and add a great deal of credibility to the campaign. The internal development campaign manager must be the orchestra leader of a variety of volunteers with specific roles to play in a capital campaign.
In my experience with directing a variety of capital campaigns in the fields of education, health care, religion and social services, I have found that having an honorary chair or chairs is a must for campaign success to occur. These individuals have typically been a capital campaign chair earlier in their career and are at the stage to help, but not too much. You must determine what role the honorary chair will play at the onset of their tenure.
If campaign chairs and honorary chairs agree to work together, beautiful harmony will be made. If not, issues will follow that will affect not only the honorary chair, but the campaign chair as well. Do your planning and homework in the pre-campaign planning phase to determine who will be asked to serve in these important campaign leadership roles. In addition to the campaign chair, make sure you secure a committed and visible honorary chair, which is a must for campaign success.
F. Duke Haddad, EdD, CFRE, is currently associate director of development, director of capital campaigns and director of corporate development for The Salvation Army Indiana Division in Indianapolis, Indiana. In addition, he is also president of Duke Haddad and Associates, LLC, and freelance instructor for Nonprofit Web Advisor.
He has been a contributing author to NonProfit PRO for the past 13 years.
He received his doctorate degree from West Virginia University with an emphasis on education administration, master’s degree from Marshall University with an emphasis in public administration and a bachelor’s degree from West Virginia University in business administration, with an emphasis in marketing/management. He has also done post graduate work at the University of Louisville.