Matt Kupec: Working With Fundraising Campaign Volunteer Leaders

by Matt Kupec

October 30, 2019

It seems like every non-profit and educational institution is in the midst of a major fundraising campaign!  Campaigns are so frequently launched that it now feels like it is more the norm to be in a campaign than not to be in a campaign.

I have had the chance to lead four major fundraising campaigns:

  • “The Campaign for Hofstra University,” a $30 million effort that was Hofstra University’s first-ever comprehensive campaign.  That initiative raised $32 million in total.
  • “The Bicentennial Campaign” at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill, a $320 million effort that was launched on the celebration of UNC’s 200th That campaign raised $440 million in total.
  • “The Carolina First Campaign,” a $1.8 billion campaign launched by UNC-Chapel Hill. This effort wound up totaling $2.38 billion in commitments, at the time the 5th largest campaign by a University in U.S. history.
  • “Forever SIU Campaign,” a $75 million effort launched by Southern Illinois University Carbondale. This effort is nearing the $90 million mark in commitments as the campaign marches on.

Having run four major fundraising campaigns, I know the important role that volunteer leadership can play in the subsequent success or failure of these important fundraising initiatives.  In this blog post, I share my thoughts about successfully working with volunteer leaders in a campaign:

Recruiting Volunteer Campaign Leaders.  Finding the right mix of individuals to serve as volunteer leaders of your campaign is one of the most important decisions an organization can make.  I’ve had the privilege of working with some giants like Hugh McColl, Billy Armfield, Paul Fulton, Charlie Shaffer, Mike Overlock, Barbara Hyde and Mary Ann Dickson in the two UNC campaigns.  SIU has a star in Dan Korte and if the campaign gets extended additional great leaders will join the SIU effort.

But what do you look for when recruiting campaign chair(s)?  Do you need just one chair?  Maybe co-chairs?  How about multiple chairs?  There are number of factors you should consider when recruiting volunteer leaders.  How passionate are the individuals about your organization?  Are they major donors?  If not, does that matter?  Are they connected?  Do other volunteers respect them?  What about the proper balance of your leadership group in terms of gender, race, and age?

These are all important questions to ask when recruiting leadership for the campaign.  Remember, you will be working very closely with these individuals for the duration of the campaign so it is important that you select the right people to lead your campaign.

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