Who Should Lead?

March 20, 2018

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Written By: DBD Team

By Jon Simons and Sara Luke


This month, the Donor By Design Team is discussing campaign readiness: the things that (should) happen before you begin a major fundraising campaign.  Today, Jon and Sara share what you should look for as you build your Leadership Cabinet.


We say it all the time on this blog and with our clients, “Leadership is Everything.” That’s because it is.

This is especially true when you are planning for your capital campaign and recruiting the volunteers who will comprise your Leadership Cabinet. This is the team of folks who will help your bold vision become a reality.

So who are these leaders? What should you consider as you build your cabinet?

They have four key characteristics:

  • Interest: they care about your organization or your cause.
  • Access: they can open doors to other key leaders who will support your campaign.
  • Influence: they are a leader with clout that others listen to and respect.
  • Affluence: they can support your campaign at a significant level. At least half of your cabinet should have the capacity to be one of your Top 20 givers to the campaign, setting the pace for other gifts.

It’s not your board. Your board was not built for this task and was recruited for an entirely different reason. The board chair should sit on the cabinet as a key connector, but your cabinet is a new group of volunteers who will lead your capital campaign efforts. Evaluate your other board members through the lens of the four characteristics above to see if they would also be a suitable addition to your cabinet.

They might be married. When a couple sits on (or chairs) a cabinet together, you will often build a deeper family connection to your cause. You’ll also likely double the amount of people they know and bring closer to your mission.

They can play different roles. Not all cabinet members have the same job description. Different leaders can bring a variety of benefits to your campaign. Aside from a chair or cabinet member, other roles could include:

  • Honorary Chairs: these folks often have an emotional or historic connection to your organization. Their presence on the cabinet provides a credibility and connection to your campaign. While Honorary Chairs can help open doors, there is not a high level of expectation for heavy lifting during the campaign.
  • Ambassadors: Leaders are busy. They may initially say “no” to being on the cabinet, but offer to help connect your organization to others they know. Take them up on their offer and engage their support. While they might not come to any cabinet meeting, they are still a very valuable addition to your team.

Identifying the leaders for your campaign sets the tone for success.  In the next part of this series, we’ll look at the first few important steps at getting these key leaders engaged.

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One response to “Who Should Lead?”

  1. […] we touched on what you should look for as you build your Leadership Cabinet. Like any important relationship, you have to take the time […]