Your nonprofit organization has decided to take the plunge and begin a capital campaign to raise $5 to $6 million. You have just retained Custom Development Solutions (CDS) to direct your Feasibility Study to help determine the timing and size of the campaign. Now you’ll begin to use the capital campaign plan which was the result of your Feasibility Study. So where does that leave you? Exactly at the stage where you need to put together your Campaign Cabinet.
At CDS, we use two primary committees to run the campaign. First, the Campaign Cabinet is a temporary group, or ad hoc committee, that helps us get started. Second, the Campaign Executive Committee (CEC), which ultimately assumes responsibility for the success of the campaign, is a group of generous and influential people that the Cabinet helps to recruit.
What is a Campaign Cabinet? It is a critical component to getting any well-run capital campaign under way. It is the leadership group that sets the goals as well as the tone for the campaign. This is the group, usually consisting of twelve to fifteen people from both the organization and the community, which will make or break your campaign.
Besides getting the campaign moving, the Campaign Cabinet is responsible for implementing the Campaign Plan that we have designed for them. Cabinet members, comprised of top staff, board leaders, and corporate and community leaders, are expected to help develop campaign strategies consistent with the Campaign Plan and to approve any new strategies that they deem needed.
Early on in any campaign there is a need to prepare campaign materials that will aid in marketing and solicitations. The Cabinet is expected to approve the campaign materials as conceived by fundraising counsel. Oftentimes this takes considerable time and effort. Also, the Cabinet is expected to provide oversight and monitor campaign efforts.
A key responsibility of the Cabinet is to identify potential campaign leaders and solicit lead and major gift givers. These donor prospects are needed to set the stage, so to speak, regarding how high a fundraising goal the campaign can meet. The number and size of initial lead gifts are vitally important. Major gift givers are sizeable contributors, but not high enough to be considered leadership level.
Cabinet meetings are scheduled on an as-needed basis, but normally are held every two weeks and last about 45 minutes each. Since most of the members of the Cabinet are all volunteers, the meetings need to be productive and short. Volunteers do not want to waste their precious free time.
Planning for its own demise is the Cabinet’s final responsibility. The Cabinet should expect to stay in existence no more than three to four months. When the time comes, it is dissolved into its successor group, the CEC. Building a solid CEC is crucial. In Campaigns, leadership is vital. The CEC is chaired by the Campaign Chairman. So the first order of business in building a strong CEC is to recruit a generous, influential leader as chairman. With his or her help, the Cabinet then begins to fill each position on the organizational chart developed by CDS. The CEC will take over the campaign where the Cabinet leaves off.
The first requirement is to identify possible campaign leaders throughout the community so they can be approached to consider various roles in the campaign organization. Next, with the guidance, influence and leadership of the Campaign Chair, the members of the Cabinet solicit their choices in order to fill out the chart. When all is complete, the Cabinet dissolves. An important factor to note is that some of the Cabinet members may be of the highest caliber and be asked to continue forward as members of the Executive Committee.
The whole process sounds pretty simple, and in many instances it works out pretty simply, too. However, since the process involves people, it can get complicated depending on how committed your organization’s board members are to your organization and how much capacity they have in terms of both financial ability and influence. Expert management of people, time, and ideas from the very start with the Cabinet will lead to success in reaching the campaign goal.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.