One of the super important but overlooked skills required in capital campaign fundraising is the ability to select and enlist great people.
If you have a campaign team made of great board members, great campaign committee volunteers, and great staff members, you can jet-propel your campaign — literally breathing energy and commitment into even the most difficult asks.
This skill of recruiting great people has many applications to fundraising and management and… well… to most of your life! Get good at it and everything will go better.
Get the Right People on Your Capital Campaign Team
It matters — really matters — that you get the right people on your team. One of the most important sections in Jim Collins’ small monograph Good to Great and the Social Sectors is about getting the right people on your bus.
Here, in summary is his excellent advice:
1.) The more selective the process, the more attractive the position becomes, whether it’s paid or volunteer.
2.) The social sector has the compelling advantage of having the power to ignite passion and commitment for the mission.
3.) The most important resource for in a social sector organization is the right people. The right people often attract money even though money does not always attract the right people.
If your campaign bus isn’t loaded with the right people, you’re going to be in trouble! Not only do the wrong people not attract money, but once you’ve got them on board they can be very difficult to get rid of.
You want people who:
- Care deeply about your project
- Will jump in and help with alacrity
- Do what they say they’ll do when they say they’ll do it
- Are willing to share their ideas but be part of a team
5 Essential Elements for Recruiting Great People for Your Campaign
You’re going to have a long, challenging road ahead of you if your bus is filled with lackluster performers.
We’ve got at least a book-worth of material on this subject, but who has time to read books these days? Instead, here’s the super duper distilled version.
1. Model the qualities you want to attract.
If you’re behavior is lackluster — if you do things late or without energy and commitment, you’ll have a hard time attracting the kind of people you want. So before you start, take a hard look at your own behavior and clean it up if you’re going to lead or staff the team.
2. Let people know you’re putting together a high-performing team.
Be explicit about your commitment to putting together a first class, crackerjack, high-functioning group. The more selective you are and the higher the standards you set, the more the right people will want to sign on.
3. Enlist people to fill specific roles.
Get super-clear on just what it is you want people to do. Write up a simple, clear job description. Don’t make it boring and ponderous; just make a bullet-point list of the tasks, the timeline, and your expectations.
4. Turn away people who don’t have the qualities you’re looking for.
Have the courage to be highly selective when you are recruiting both staff and volunteers. Don’t be unkind or rude, but do let people know that the process is competitive and they may or may not be picked for the team. It’s generally quite easy to let people go easily because they don’t enough time.
5. Test people out before you add them to your team.
Ask people to do something small for you and watch carefully the way they do it. Don’t make any excuses for them if they don’t do the task well, if they are late, or if they don’t do it at all.
For example, ask them to review a draft of your case for support and send you comments by Friday. If you observe how they perform carefully, you’re likely to know whether someone will be right for your campaign.
More Resources for Enlisting Campaign Volunteers
We’ve written several excellent posts on more specific aspects of recruiting volunteers for your campaign.
- How to Recruit the Best Capital Campaign Volunteers
- Podcast: How to Recruit the Best Leaders for Your Capital Campaign
- Recruiting the Best Campaign Chair for Your Capital Campaign
What trouble have you had recruiting top-tier capital campaign volunteers? Let us know in the comments below — we’re happy to offer some advice.