Wrangling volunteers can be hard, like herding cats. But they are an integral part of any capital campaign, especially when the volunteers are also donors.

If you expect donors to give 5 or 10 times (or more) than they normally give to your organization, they should be engaged and invested (literally and figuratively) before you ask for those large gifts. There’s no better way to engage your potential donors than to have them serve on a committee.

The good news is that there are a wide variety of volunteer opportunities — some short term, others longer term, some requiring small commitment, and others requiring larger commitment. Chances are good that you can find a committee that suits the needs and personality of each volunteer you are trying to recruit.

3 Capital Campaign Committees to Engage Volunteers Before Your Campaign Even Begins

Big donors often want you to consider their opinions before they invest in your project. By providing them with an opportunity to review and comment on plans before finalizing them, you give them insider status.

You can easily see how committees should be laid out throughout your campaign with this handy downloadable Capital Campaign Committee Org Chart.

Here are descriptions of the three campaign committees best suited to involve the biggest prospects for your campaign.

1. Core Campaign Committee

The Core Committee is a small group of dedicated individuals (4-6 members) which will be the driving force throughout the campaign. This committee will include:

  • Executive Director / CEO
  • Director of Development
  • Board Chair / President or the Fundraising Chair of your board
  • Campaign Chair (once they are identified)
  • One or two other current and former board members

Members of this committee often commit to serving throughout the campaign (3 + years) and meet on a regular basis (often monthly), and come together as needed. They will:

  • Develop campaign objectives
  • Calculate a preliminary working goal
  • Draft an early version of the case for support
  • Recruit feasibility study and planning committee volunteers
  • Make critical decisions throughout the campaign

2. Feasibility Study Committee

The Feasibility Study Committee is the first opportunity to recruit a few of your biggest donors to “see behind the curtain”.

The committee usually comprises staff and board members, plus one or two additional volunteers who could be key contributors to the campaign. This group will oversee the feasibility study process.

There are three ways to conduct a feasibility study to test the case for support and working goal with your largest potential donors and community leaders. The three options for a feasibility study:

  1. Traditional study — hire an outside consultant to conduct interviews
  2. DIY donor conversations — organizational leaders conduct a set of interviews with their top donor prospects
  3. Guided study — organizational leaders conduct interviews/conversations, and are guided by an experienced campaign advisor, who prepares them for each interview and helps analyze findings

The Feasibility Study Committee includes:

  • Executive Director / CEO
  • Development Director
  • 3 to 4 Board Members
  • 1 to 2 experienced campaign volunteers

This committee is a short-term commitment and may only meet 3 times. Their core responsibilities include:

  • Hire a consultant if using an outside one
  • Review case for support and working goal to be tested in study
  • Identify individuals to be interviewed as part of study
  • Review the report before making a recommendation to the board

3. Campaign Planning Committee

Once the Feasibility Study is complete, the Planning Committee is another short-term committee which comes together to finalize a campaign plan. This is one of the larger committees and engages the largest group of volunteers to date.

The Planning Committee includes:

  • Executive Director / CEO
  • Development Director
  • Campaign Chair
  • Key Board Members
  • 12 + Most influential and wealthiest volunteers you can recruit

Over the course of two or three meetings, this committee will:

  • Review the feasibility study results
  • Create a campaign plan (review documents developed by staff)
  • Review revised working goal, case for support, donor recognition plan, campaign policies, campaign timeline and budget
  • Make lead gifts
  • Lend their names to the campaign

By the time you’re ready to begin the silent phase of your campaign, you should have involved most of your leadership level donors in one or more aspects of getting ready for your campaign. If you involve them before you’re ready to solicit lead gifts, your lead gift prospects will be well aware of your campaign plans and more inclined to make a gift when you solicit them.

3 Capital Campaign Committees to Engage Volunteers Throughout Your Campaign

Once you have your campaign plans finalized, you’ll be ready to start soliciting gifts.

1. Steering Committee

A Steering Committee will consist of many of the same members of the Planning Committee. These are people who want to have continued involvement in your campaign, who are willing to be good advocates and even solicit gifts on behalf of your campaign.

The Steering Committee includes:

  • Executive Director / CEO
  • Development Director
  • Campaign Chair
  • Key Board Members
  • 12+ of the most influential and wealthiest volunteers you can recruit

This committee will meet 4 to 6 times per year for the duration of the campaign and will:

  • Oversee the campaign
  • Monitor campaign progress and recommend course corrections
  • Advocate on behalf of the campaign and make first gifts to the campaign

2. Nucleus Fund Committee

The Nucleus Fund Committee is often a sub-committee of the steering committee and solicits gifts during the quiet phase of the campaign, including the lead gifts and gifts from the full board and campaign committees.

The committee includes:

  • Executive Director / CEO
  • Development Director
  • Approximately 5 of the best volunteer solicitors from the steering committee

This committee will meet monthly during the quiet phase, until all lead gifts, board and committee members have been solicited and 65% or more of the working goal has been raised.

The Nucleus Fund Committee will:

  • Solicit all leadership level gifts (generally about 50 prospects, which will become 20 lead gifts)
  • Solicit all board members
  • Solicit all campaign committee members

3. Kick-Off Committee

The Kick-Off Committee is fun, fun fun! The Kick-Off Committee is responsible for planning a celebration event announcing your campaign to the community.

This is a committee of people who love to plan events and pay attention to details. They will plan your official campaign Kick-Off — when you announce your official campaign goal. Until this point, you’ve been in the quiet phase of your campaign, without any press releases, public events, campaign brochures, or wide-spread announcements.

Your Kick-Off event should match the culture and nature of your organization. A grass-roots, scrappy organization should not plan a black-tie affair. Your guests might be more comfortable under a tent with punch and cookies as you put a ceremonial shovel in the ground.

This Kick-Off Committee will include:

  • Development Director
  • Board liaison
  • Volunteers who love to plan events and are committed to the success of your campaign

This committee is tasked to:

  • Decide on the type of event your kick-off should be
  • Select a date and location
  • Plan the details

Capital Campaign Committee Volunteers Are One of Your Strongest Assets

Although campaign volunteers can be hard to recruit, challenging to pin down for meeting time, and not always as eager as we’d like, they are still an integral part of your campaign. One phone call or meeting from a volunteer can be 100 times more effective than outreach from a staff member.

Remember — when volunteers are engaged, involved, and committed to your campaign, they are worth their weight in gold.

Campaign committees are a wonderful way to engage those volunteers who aren’t willing (or available) to serve on your board. And, if you are able to engage these important individuals in your campaign, they are likely to be much more generous than if they were not involved.

Use Our Free Capital Campaign Committee Org Chart

Capital Campaign Committees Org ChartDon’t forget to download the Capital Campaign Committee Org Chart (click the link or click the image at right). It offers a great visual model to follow to structure your committees.

Let us know how you use volunteers for your capital campaign. In addition, any questions you have about any of these campaign committees are welcome in the comments below.


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