If you’re getting ready for a capital campaign, you may be wondering how in heaven’s name you’re going to find the time to run a campaign when you can barely get all of the requirements of your current responsibilities done.
You may find it galling – as I do – that your board members don’t seem to understand how much time and energy the annual fundraising takes, and they just assume that with the snap of your fingers you’ll be able to raise a few million more. I mean… REALLY???
If that’s your situation, this post is for you!
How to Staff Your Development Office for a Capital Campaign
You’ve got to grab the initiative and develop a sound plan for how you’re going to pull it all off. If you do, there’s a good chance you’ll be in for a successful campaign without burning out, neglecting your family, ruining your marriage, and ending up on a therapist’s couch.
In the best of all worlds, your campaign will be a boon to you and your career. With expert campaign advice, a clear-headed plan and the support of your staff and board, you’ll learn a ton, raise more money than you ever imagined, set yourself up for an upward move for your career, and even have a good time doing it.
So the stakes are high for getting it right.
1. Start by determining your real staffing needs.
At the top of your priorities should be that each person on your team should maximize their potential and be doing work that’s appropriate and fits their skills.
As you assess development roles and responsibilities, keep in mind that at least for the purpose of the campaign, your ED, campaign chair and perhaps board chair might be on your development team so you might involve them in the process.
- Start by asking each person to track their development work for a week.
- Get them to write down every development related task they do. Nothing fancy is necessary. It might be as simple as a running list.
- At the end of the week, ask them to organize those activities by type.
2. Next, determine priorities and review roles.
Ask each person to indicate which types of activities on their list are priorities for them and what activities someone else might do.
Then meet to review the roles and see what can be reassigned to make everyone function at the appropriate levels and support the most critical work of the development program for the campaign.
A meeting of that sort should aim toward identifying ways that top level staff might be more effective and defining new positions that will be needed for the campaign.
In our experience, most development offices lack support staff. When administrative or support staff is brought on to support the work of organizational leaders, the entire development program functions better.
But some organizations are better served by bringing on an experienced campaign manager who can play an active role in building relationships with major donors as well as running the campaign.
3. Lastly, create job descriptions for new positions.
Whichever approach to staffing is best for you, you should create a job description for each new position. And, if you plan to reassign other roles, you will be wise to create job descriptions for each staff position — new and old.
The job descriptions should outline the responsibilities, expectations, and qualifications for each role. This will help to ensure that each staff member is clear on their role and what is expected of them.
For some positions, you might include metrics for development office staff like specific fundraising goals and donor engagement metrics.
Developing a Campaign Budget to Cover Additional Development Staff
For many organizations, it’s challenging to get a new line item in the budget for additional development staff. But if you are planning a campaign, you can include campaign staff in a special campaign budget. The funds spent on those campaign positions will be campaign expenses and will be included in the objectives of your campaign.
Most campaign budgets are projected over a period of three or four years. And, if the campaign is successful and the organization has been able to increase its annual operations, those staff members may be shifted to the operating budget at the end of the campaign.
Staffing is only one item of many that will be included in your campaign budget. But including the new staff positions in the campaign budget will make it easier and more palatable for your board to approve the additional expenditures.
When it Comes to Campaign Staffing, Don’t be Trapped by Unrealistic Expectations
As your organization moves toward a capital campaign, both the Development Director and the Executive Director must take a clear stand in favor of hiring additional staff to support the campaign.
Don’t wait until there’s a crisis and the key development staff quit in frustration. Start having early conversations about what will be required and building a campaign budget to cover the additional expense.
Get the support you need to succeed.
With our approach, you get the support, expertise, and guidance you need — plus all the tools and materials — to make your campaign a success.