The Key Ingredients: Who is an Ideal Capital Campaign Steering Committee Member?

The secret sauce to a successful campaign is a strong, effective steering committee.

By Kathy Douglas

An engaged steering committee will not only help you achieve fundraising success but will also create a lasting impact on your organization and community. A steering committee expands your organization’s power base by increasing the visibility and credibility of the campaign. It is no exaggeration to say that a fundraising campaign will not fulfill its potential unless it has strong volunteer leaders.

Building a successful steering committee starts with selecting the right individuals.

Here are the three essential qualities we suggest our clients consider when recruiting capital campaign steering committee members:

  • Large sphere of influence: Identify individuals with a wide network and influential connections. These individuals exponentially increase the number of people in your community who know about your campaign, and they add credibility to your funding proposals by publicly demonstrating their support for your next steps.
  • Passionate advocates: Recruit members who are genuinely passionate about your organization’s mission. Their enthusiasm will be contagious and inspire others to get involved.
  • Fearless fundraisers: Seek individuals unafraid to ask others for support. A willingness to make the ask is crucial for fundraising success.

Three Steps to Create a Powerhouse Steering Committee

Step 1: Strategic Steering Member Recruitment—Beyond Dollars and Cents

Be strategic and thoughtful when selecting your committee. Resist the urge to recruit members solely on their ability to give a large gift. While a donation is important, other characteristics are vital to having an effective and motivated committee.

Consider these tips for strategic recruitment:

  • Stakeholder inclusion: Involve key stakeholders and senior leaders. Their presence adds depth to the committee and aligns the campaign with organizational goals.
  • Diversity matters: Assemble a diverse group with varied expertise and perspectives. This ensures you have a well-rounded team that can approach challenges from different angles.

Step 2: Setting the Stage for Success—Clear Expectations and Open Communication

Once you’ve assembled your dream team, it’s crucial to set the stage for success:

  • Job descriptions: Provide members with a clear job description outlining expectations and time commitments. Clarity at the outset fosters open communication and minimizes confusion.
  • Regular, well-organized meetings: Schedule regular meetings that are efficient and purposeful. A well-organized agenda keeps the committee focused and ensures that everyone’s time is respected.

Step 3: Nurturing a Motivated and Effective Committee

Your committee is ready, but how do you keep the momentum going?

  • Recognition and appreciation: Regularly acknowledge the committee’s efforts and celebrate milestones. Feeling appreciated keeps motivation high.
  • Feedback mechanism: Create a feedback loop to understand what’s working well and where improvements can be made. This collaborative approach strengthens the committee over time.
  • Consider multiple campaign steering committees: For larger campaigns, consider having a steering committee for top-tier lead gifts. When their work is done, launch a separate committee for major or mid-level gifts. Having multiple steering committees creates a time-bound mandate for each that keeps urgency at the forefront.

A successful capital campaign steering committee isn’t just a group of donors; it’s a powerhouse of influence, passion, and fearlessness. By carefully selecting members, setting clear expectations, and fostering open communication, you’ll pave the way for a fundraising campaign that not only meets but exceeds its potential.

Here’s to the power of a united and dedicated steering committee, driving positive change for your organization and community!

About the Author

Kathy Douglas has 30 years of fundraising experience as a nonprofit executive and chief development officer. She specializes in capital campaign management, board development, and donor communications. Connect with Kathy on LinkedIn.

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