How to Recruit the Right Volunteers For Your Capital Campaign
Because the goals are high, capital campaigns feel risky. And few people want to be associated with something they fear might not be successful. So you have to take great care in building confidence right from the start. And that starts with getting the right people on board.
How Can You Identify the Right Volunteers for Your Campaign?
If you get the right people engaged in your campaign early, many others will want to be part of your winning team. But who are the right people?
They are the people who are inevitably associated with successful projects.
They are the people in your community who, when they sign up for something, have the ability, will, courage and determination to make it happen.
They are the people who, for one reason or another make things happen.
Sometimes they have great wealth and are generous contributors. But they might also have built a reputation in the community for getting things done. And you will want some of both!
Get the Right People on Board With These 4 Steps
Check out these four tried-and-true tips for identifying and recruiting the right people to volunteer for your campaign.
1. It’s simple: Just ask.
You have a wonderful opportunity to ask the leaders in your organization and in your community who they think the best people would be to help with your campaign. It seems simple, but it works.
Make lists of likely people and share the list with leaders in your community. Ask them to help you prioritize the list and suggest who else might be on it.
After speaking with several people, a few names are likely to rise to the top. And when you recruit those people to help with your campaign, you can let them know that again and again, people suggested them.
2. Start with a short-term assignment.
Don’t start by asking people to take on long, demanding roles, in which they will have to carry the brunt of your entire campaign. If you do that, lots of great candidates are likely to turn you down.
Instead, invite your “right people” to start with a short-term assignment. I suggest inviting them to serve on your campaign-planning committee. It’s a short, but important, assignment to help develop your campaign plan. You can read more about that here.
3. Recruit the magnets first.
Don’t start with the person who will be easiest to recruit. Instead, recruit the most powerful people first, and then ask them to help recruit the rest of the group.
Think carefully about what you can do to make the most powerful person want get on board. Select the person in your organization that has the strongest relationship with him or her. Carefully consider why the person might want to help. Make sure that you can clearly convey what the expectations are, how long the assignment will be and what they will be asked to do.
4. Give them a great experience.
The first experience people have in your campaign will determine whether they are going to be willing to continue on. Make sure your meetings are organized well and have ample opportunity for real discussion. Follow up with clear, well-written notes and assignments. And when the initial assignment comes to a close, be sure that you thank people individually for helping.
The Right Volunteers Are the Backbone of Your Capital Campaign’s Success
If you recruit your most important campaign volunteers early and carefully, and you make sure they have a great experience, many of them will serve on multiple committees—one after the other. And because they’re involved in your campaign, you will find it easier to recruit others to help throughout your campaign.
For more on this important topic, check out this post: "Get the Right People on Your Capital Campaign Bus."
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.