To conduct a successful major gifts campaign, you are will need the help and engagement of a Major Gift Campaign Committee. This Committee consists of Board members, current donors and key volunteers in the community who are well connected in the community and interested in helping you reach out for significant donations. The first step in recruiting members for the Committee is to gain a financial commitment from each member – either a one time significant gift or a multi-year pledge. This is important as no one should ask others for money unless they themselves have given personally. The second step is to gain a time commitment from the member. They will need to commit to attending a monthly committee meeting, quarterly donor cultivation receptions and one-on-one meetings with potential donors.
Who do you recruit? When looking for a qualified Campaign Chair, think about who is well-known and respected in the community and who most people easily associate with your organization. It will also be helpful if your Chair can make a substantial donation to the campaign to set an example for others. Your Chair should be charismatic and a good public speaker as they will be called upon to speak at receptions, media events, ground breaking ceremonies and many other events surrounding the campaign.
Peer pressure is a very effective tool on a major gift campaign committee to keep committee members accountable for making their personal donation and soliciting their friends and colleagues for donations. At each monthly committee meeting, ask the individual committee members to report on their actions or progress with potential donors.
Major gift campaigns should be Board led and staff supported. Often, I create a list of potential donors for each committee member of their friends and colleagues that they have agreed to solicit. Make monthly one-on-one appointments with each committee member to brainstorm “moves” or actions the committee member should take to cultivate their potential donor. Record these notes for the committee member and email it to them after the meeting. If your committee members are struggling with reaching out to the donors, help them by doing the legwork. If you have an upcoming major donor cultivation reception, drop off pre-addressed invites to your committee members and ask them to make a personal note on the invitation before mailing.
There is much excitement and energy from the Major Gifts Campaign Committee in the first part of the campaign and even through the public phase. As you are fundraising for the last third or quarter of your total goal, the enthusiasm often dies down and your committee members become disengaged. Yet, this is the time you need their help the most – to help finish the campaign!
If you are seeing low attendance at your committee meetings, survey the committee to find out if the time and date is convenient for them and what date/time will guarantee their attendance. Often feeding them lunch helps or moving the meetings to every other month (as the action gets a little slow at the end of the campaign and less meetings are required). Ask you Committee Chair to meet individually with each committee member to gain their recommitment or give them the option to step off the committee. Discuss with your Committee Chair and a few key committee or staff members on how the organization can best utilize each committee member and their skills. Brainstorm how you can make each committee member feel valued and that they are making a difference in the campaign.
Please see the Major Gifts Campaign Committee Description and Responsibilities sample: Major Gift Committee Description and Responsibilities