Every campaign is a marathon, no matter how quickly the first large gifts come in. I have found that the most important factor in completing the campaign marathon is strong and steady leadership. You need the right team to navigate the ups and downs and to push through the inevitable obstacles that come up. Campaign leaders are vital to keeping even the strongest and best planned campaign moving forward. For campaigns that have more inherent challenges, strong leadership is often the only path to success.
Now, leadership can come in many flavors, from strategists, to relationship managers, to cheerleaders. These roles need to seamlessly work together, with thoughtful planning and ongoing communication. Yet, many times there isn’t the capacity within the organization to plan, execute, and complete a campaign while keeping the day to day wheels of mission-focused activity turning. So, outside of current development staff (who are most likely spending their time managing the campaign), who are these leaders and how can you find them?
Here’s the secret. You already know them.
They are your Board members, program staff, volunteers, and community members. Anyone who is passionate about and committed to your mission.
A well-run campaign can also become an opportunity for these team members and supporters to step forward and reveal their leadership superpowers. Your role, whether you’re an Executive Director or Board President or development staff, is to prepare your campaign leaders for greatness. This is the most important thing you can do to ensure campaign success.
Your first step is to find people with a powerful mix of talent, commitment, and passion and align them with the key campaign constituencies. Here’s the short version of my playbook for assembling a campaign dream team:
Look for a mix of people who can fill the leadership skillset needs of the campaign.
- Storytellers: This person can share compelling examples of what your organization’s impact looks like in your community. They can put faces on both the challenge and solution.
- Financial Leaders: This person can help build and explain any budget or cash flow projection. They make it simple for anyone to understand.
- Project Leaders: This person loves talking about the price per square foot and meeting with architects and city officials. They are credible and passionate advocates for any capital project.
- Fearless Solicitors: This person likely has a background in sales or community organizing. They are willing to ask anyone for anything in the name of your mission.
- Board Ambassadors: This person represents the community ownership of any nonprofit. They are uniquely prepared to integrate the larger organizational vision and the campaign vision.
- The “X Factors”
The above profiles are mere skillsets if they are not also coupled with more intangible traits. Above all else, find people in and around your organization that deeply believe in what you are trying to accomplish through the campaign. So, what does this look like in practical terms? Here are a few clues to who might be ready to step into a leadership role.
- Commitment: They have been consistently giving, volunteering, or working for your organization for five or more years.
- Charisma: When they talk about your mission at events, on social media, or one-on-one, people listen and engage.
- Grit: They have the determination to keep the momentum going when gift acquisition slows down (this will happen) and keep pushing through when inevitable challenges arise.
You can take the first step today towards assembling your campaign dream team by brainstorming people in your organization’s community who have potential to be strong campaign leaders. And, we’re here to support your campaign marathon. Send us your questions and ideas about campaign leadership. Want to chat more about campaigns? We are here to connect.