One of the more interesting trends we’ve noticed in capital campaigns is a shift in leadership structure. Instead of individual chairs, we’re commonly seeing co-chairs, tri-chairs, honorary chairs and more. While this may seem like a suspect idea at first – if everyone is in charge, no one is in charge – it turns out to work really well in this critical volunteer capacity.

    Why should this be so? Fundamentally, I don’t think most folks want to be alone leading the campaign. Leadership can be lonely, especially for a volunteer.

    Co-chairs can help to alleviate the loneliness, but consider carefully the chemistry and relative strengths of both leaders. Is one strong where the other isn’t? Do they balance each other out? When chosen well, two or three leaders can form a strong foundation for your campaign. They can become the dream team with access to other key leaders from around the community.

    How can you use this knowledge to recruit your campaign leaders?

    • When recruiting leadership, bring your feasibility study data with you. Point out the number of times other community leaders suggested that they are the perfect person to chair the campaign. This is not about ego-stroking, but rather to assure this leader that they have the clout and backing to be successful.
    • Create a Campaign Chair “job description.” Make it clear what the chair is responsible for, versus what staff is responsible for, and share with your prospective chair, asking for feedback.
    • If a particular person or couple is critical to your campaign success, don’t be hampered by a no. No often means “not yet,” or “not like this.” Listen carefully to what is said before and after the no to determine if there are objections that you can address and fix.
    • Suggest the possibility of co- or tri-chairs. Ask who else they might enjoy serving with on the campaign. Be selective and build a team that can sustain the dips every campaign endures.

    Ultimately, any high-performing leader wants to be successful. If they believe in your mission, this is even more important to them, because they don’t want to let the cause down. By addressing their concerns, and helping them to create a strong team, you’ll find it easier to recruit the “Big L” leaders that will make all the difference in your campaign’s success.

    Posted by Bruce Berglund
    Bruce Berglund

    Written by Bruce Berglund

    Bruce Berglund, CFRE, is the founder and President of DBD Group, a national firm providing comprehensive consulting services to nonprofits, faith-based organizations, colleges and more. Bruce is a highly sought-after writer, speaker and teacher.

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