Leadership Must Be Focused, Engaged for Campaign Success!
The campaign was stalled, and a friend called for advice. A large national consulting firm had developed a campaign plan and early counsel. Soon after its engagement ended, the campaign seemed to stall.
However, as our conversation progressed, and I dug deeper, it was apparent: The leadership was not focused and engaged for the campaign’s success.
An organization’s CEO and campaign steering committee—particularly its leadership—must be fully engaged in order to achieve their potential, and keep momentum through the campaign’s phases and inevitable times when there seems to be a lull.
This campaign’s steering committee did not appear to have been selected or established properly. There was no minimum giving level, and my friend explained that the orientation was not effective. There also was no regular schedule of communication and engagement, and after a year, less than a quarter of the committee was active.
A CEO must make a campaign his or her top priority—investing at least 50 percent of his or her time on the campaign. This often means shedding responsibilities inside or outside the organization, and even adding staff. And I’ve shared before that a CEO (or even chief development officer) who wants to control all the key relationships or get credit for most gifts can be a major impediment to fulfilling your potential.
In this case, the very widely respected CEO was spending too much time traveling for roles in organizations other than the nonprofit that the CEO led. This was leaving little time for campaign calls and meant that, in some instances, major donor visit opportunities couldn’t be scheduled until weeks later. It may take weeks to get on a major donor’s calendar, but a CEO—and other leaders—needs to be able to respond immediately during a campaign and move less vital appointments if necessary.
If you are counting on a campaign that has momentum and hits its goal on schedule, you have to have an engaged campaign steering committee. You also must have a CEO who makes the campaign his or her top priority, and leverages the staff and volunteer team to maximize donor relationships.
Looking for Jeff? You'll find him either on the lake, laughing with good friends, or helping nonprofits develop to their full potential.
Jeff believes that successful fundraising is built on a bedrock of relevant, consistent messaging; sound practices; the nurturing of relationships; and impeccable stewardship. And that organizations that adhere to those standards serve as beacons to others that aspire to them. The Bedrocks & Beacons blog will provide strategic information to help nonprofits be both.
Jeff has more than 25 years of nonprofit leadership experience and is a member of the NonProfit PRO Editorial Advisory Board.