Leadership at All Levels


I get asked this question at least once a week: what’s the single most important thing for successful campaigns? Most who ask this question suspect my answer will be something about wealth screening, stewardship, powerful cases, endorsements from community leaders, etc.

The simple answer is … leadership. And that leadership has to come from all levels of the organization.

Leadership takes the form of a graphic designer who spends the extra hours to make materials simple, elegant and powerful.

Leadership takes the form of an executive director who works the campaign plan even though they are overworked and a bit intimidated by the process. They lead by placing themselves on the “front asking line” as they tell their better story to the best of their ability.

Leadership takes the form of the data manager who makes sure names are spelled right!

Leadership takes the form of program staff who tirelessly serve kids, seniors, families, the unheard and unwanted with compassion and care.

Leadership takes the form of volunteers giving generously of their time, talent and treasure.

Leadership takes the form of a development officer who knows the success of annual giving sets the stage for all future major and planned gifts. 

Leadership takes the form of a planned giving officer to takes the extra time to hear that amazing story for the second or third time. Why? Because it’s the right thing to do.

Leadership takes the form of a manager taking time with their staff so they understand how each role in the department is critical to their overall success.

Every campaign experiences what we call “The Dip.” Campaigns start out exciting with the announcements of lead gifts, campaign leaders, and more. Then, over time, the excitement wanes. Gifts start to slow. Volunteers get anxious. The momentum we enjoyed at the beginning of the campaign seems to stall. 

Who do you want buckled in next to you during this inevitable dip? You want an educated and inspired staff team that knows what they do makes a huge difference. You want volunteers ready to show up and help! You want your whole team to lead from where they are, because leadership is what powers you through the dip.

“Leadership is Everything” is one of our favorite axioms. And now you know why!

DBD Prepping for 2023 (4)This Month's Focus

This month we are recognizing and delving into leadership at every level. We believe that true leadership is not defined by a title but by the actions taken to support the organization and the community as a whole.


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Posted by Bruce Berglund
Bruce Berglund

Written by Bruce Berglund

For nearly 30 years, Bruce Berglund, CFRE, has been a successful professional fundraiser in the fields of higher education, arts and culture, and social services. Bruce is the CEO and Founder of DBD Group (formerly Donor by Design Group), a national firm providing comprehensive fundraising services to nonprofits, churches, community colleges and schools. DBD is currently managing more than $3 billion in capital, annual and endowment campaigns. Bruce is a highly sought-after writer, speaker and teacher.

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