How to get the Most from Your Campaign Executive Committee and their Meetings?

Posted by David G Phillips on Aug 10, 2018 8:28:54 AM

Whether you call it your Campaign Executive Committee, Steering Committee, or Campaign Cabinet, this group of volunteers is the heart and soul of your capital campaign. Keeping them informed, inspired, motivated and enthusiastic can make or break your campaign effort. One important way to do this is to insure that the meetings they are expected to attend during the campaign are interesting, informative, productive and positive.

At the outset of your campaign, the ultimate financial goal may appear to be an optimistic and overly challenging target. Yet, even in the first stages of your effort, the committee and their meetings should be well planned with specific objectives that measurably move towards success.

The first step, of course, is the careful selection of this group of volunteers. This is the group that will guide, steer, solicit and sell your campaign. They must first be committed to the goals of the project (have the inclination to give) and secondly, they must make a generous gift of their own, preferably one of the largest gifts of the campaign. This sets the tone for giving. Additional characteristics of this group are that they are respected members of the community, they are willing to solicit their colleagues and friends, and they make involvement in this campaign a priority for their calendars.

One of the key ways to keep this primary group of volunteer leaders informed, inspired, focused, motivated and enthusiastic about the campaign is to make sure the campaign committee meetings are just that - informative, inspiring, focused, motivating and enthusiastic! This is the responsibility of the Campaign Chair, in concert with and under the direction of fundraising counsel and senior staff.

Nothing can slow the momentum of your campaign effort quicker than to have your committee experience meetings that they feel are not giving them the updates and information they need, are not focused on the key elements of the campaign and therefore not giving them a feeling of optimism, motivation and inspiration to get the job done. If these key leaders are, to any degree, apprehensive about the goal that was set for the campaign in the beginning, poorly planned committee meetings that are poorly presented and conducted will do nothing but reinforce that concern!

So - what are the basics of these important meetings? There are certain agenda items that should be common to every campaign committee meeting. The basics are:

1. The Update, or Scorecard. The first agenda item should bring your committee up to date on the progress of the campaign. Not just gift totals, but details of prospect solicitations, gifts closed, pending “asks” and follow-up required. This review should prompt input from committee members on their specific actions of follow-up, new solicitations, and other efforts to move the process forward.

2. The prioritizing of the next round of prospect contacts and “asks.” This will move into a discussion regarding assignments, contacts, intelligence on target prospects, etc.

3. A look at longer-range prospects that are beyond the assignments covered in the previous section.

4. A time for general input, when each committee member is asked for comments, questions or any other discussion they feel is pertinent to advancing the campaign.

5. A summary of the meeting by the Chairman, covering the highlights, the challenges ahead, the accomplishments to date and a pep talk to close the meeting on a positive note.

The key to these meetings is accountability and assignment. Everyone must know that the assignments they accept at one meeting will be reviewed at following meetings, making them accountable to their peers and the organization. Each meeting must also contain concrete action points, in which volunteers accept new tasks and everyone is in agreement as to the direction and pace of the campaign.

When each meeting follows these principles, members will take away the latest information, a focus on upcoming priorities, specific assignments (motivation) and enthusiasm for a goal that will be achieved through a solid process. Meeting by meeting, the campaign will march forward to success.

Custom Development Solutions, Inc. (CDS) is among the most sought after fundraising consulting firms specializing in the strategic planning and tactical execution of capital campaigns for non-profits throughout the United States and Canada.  If you have a fundraising question, please call CDS at 800-761-3833 or send an email to

Topics: Board Development, Capital Campaigns, development meetings, executive committee meetings, General Articles, organizational meetings, Professional Skill Building, strategic planning

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