In our last post, we shared our top tips for ensuring success in your fundraising program despite staff and leadership transitions. There, we focused on key ways to build a fundraising culture that can overcome staff transitions, and managing change when those transitions do happen. Now, we’ll talk specifically about how to keep leadership transitions from derailing your campaign.
As we established previously, turnover happens in fundraising, and while it’s important to build a culture that limits this (see our blog posts on “Fantastic fundraisers and how to keep them” and “The recruitment and retention challenge”), it is also important to be prepared for it when it does happen. And this couldn’t be truer during, or while preparing for, a campaign. So how can you proceed with a campaign when faced with a transition in key development roles?
– First, know that all the key elements we mentioned previously still apply: have the right (optimistic) mindset, be proactive in communicating with key prospects, take stock internally, and leverage the opportunity for an introduction tour.
– If there is a gap between the outgoing and incoming leader’s tenure, focus on phase appropriate planning and preparation that isn’t dependent on the leader’s involvement, such as creating the campaign plan and timetable, refining portfolios, and conducting discovery and qualification visits to bolster the pipeline.
– Assuming you’re working with campaign counsel, leverage their expertise and leadership to accomplish much of the preparation and planning mentioned above and, if appropriate, consider engaging them in an interim leadership role.
– Maximize the visibility of your institutional leader and campaign cabinet. Cultivation and solicitation activity doesn’t need to stop when you have well-trained volunteers and an inspiring leader who is comfortable with fundraising. Again, your campaign counsel can help prepare these individuals for their role in prospect engagement.
– Use the campaign as an attractive recruiting tool for a new development leader. Many development professionals would be interested by the opportunity to shepherd the organization through a campaign as the effort is a visible sign of the investment your organization has put into fundraising and is always an exciting time in development.
These five steps will help ensure continued momentum and activity for your campaign, while also positioning the organization for future successes and milestones.
Michael DeCristofaro is a Senior Consultant at Graham-Pelton Consulting. Contact Michael directly via email or by calling +1 800.608.7955.