Successful capital campaigns use lots of volunteers. Volunteers serve as campaign chairs, on the steering committee and on a host of other ad hoc committees that help with specific aspects of the campaign.
Yesterday, one of our Campaign Toolkit members emailed me with a question. What’s the best way, she asked, to recruit volunteers to serve on a short-term capital campaign committee?
Being able to recruit people to help with your campaign is a powerfully important skill. Here are some practices I’ve found over the years that work.
How to Recruit Capital Campaign Volunteers
Always recruit people in a personal way. In other words, don’t write a single letter or email to recruit volunteers and copy it over and over, sending it to everyone you want to recruit. That’s likely to get disappointing results. Take time to think about each person and personalize the request.
Each personalized invitation to participate should include most or all of these elements.
- What are you recruiting them for?
- What are the goals of the committee?
- How long is the commitment likely to last?
- How big is the group they are being invited to join?
- How often will the committee meet?
- Will the committee meet in person or virtually?
- Why, specifically, have you selected that person to recruit?
- If you know, you might let them know with whom else they will be serving.
That’s a long list. I know. But when you see it in practice, it’s not so complicated.
A Sample Volunteer Recruitment Email / Letter for Your Campaign
Imagine that I’m recruiting you to serve on my campaign committee. I might write you an email that says something like this:
I’m writing to ask for your help. Not your financial help! … (not yet, anyway.)
Nope. This time I’m inviting you to share your wisdom and experience with us as we plan a capital campaign to build a new home for the Bronx Music Academy.
You know this community well, and you have a great deal of experience raising money here. I can’t imagine taking this next giant step forward without getting your advice.
I hope that you will join us and 6 to 8 other community leaders for two campaign planning meetings. The first meeting will take place on October 3 from 4:00 to 5:30. The second meeting will be two weeks later on October 17 at the same time.
We will meet in person for the first meeting but you may participate in the second by video-conference if you prefer.
You’ve been so helpful to us over the last decade, [name], helping us at critical turns as we’ve grown and expanded. I hope that you’ll share your thoughts and ideas with us again as we shape this next phase of our growth.
I’ll call you next week to see if you are available and willing.
Thank you, [name], for all you do to help make our community a better place.
P.S. I just got a call from Carole Curtis who has agreed to serve! I know you’ve enjoyed working with her before.
If you got that email and it accurately reflected your relationship to the community and the organization, wouldn’t you be inclined to serve?
I know I would find it hard to say no. And that, of course, is the result you want.
This Recruitment Letter is NOT a Form Letter
While the volunteer recruitment letter above covers all of the items in the list above for your campaign, it does so in a very informed and personal way. Writing personalized invitations like that takes a bit of thought and time. But the extra effort will pay off.
Keep in mind that the success of your campaign depends on the quality and commitment of your volunteers. The more involved they are, the more likely they are to give generously. And the more they are willing to help and to champion your campaign, the more people will want to join them.
Recruiting campaign volunteers is one of the most important aspects of your campaign planning. Be sure to do it in a way that will make people want to help.