The first questions potential campaign volunteers pose often focus on time. Typical time commitments include prospect communication such as calling to set appointments, writing door-opener and follow-up letters, and actually making visits. These are time-consuming activities, and volunteers usually understand that they are essential and that only they can perform these duties.
However, you also will be asking campaign volunteers to attend meetings on a regular basis. A poorly focused, boring, or too-long meeting can zap a volunteer’s will to live, let alone the willingness to serve
To clearly demonstrate from the beginning that you respect the time, attention, and dedication your volunteer leaders have committed to your organization, we recommend that every meeting have a clearly defined purpose (training, strategy, prospect management, etc.), a quantifiable goal (three cultivation moves per participant, five volunteers trained per session, etc.), and desired result (new prospect assignments, submission of pledge documents, etc.). Meetings during capital campaigns fall into four major categories:
- Orientation. Explain the campaign process and plans for achieving the campaign goal to various constituencies. For instance, for staff members, you might have a breakfast or “coffee break” to discuss the campaign and answer questions such as what impact the operations of the campaign will have on daily operations.
- Training. Prepare campaign volunteers for the solicitation process.
- Assignment. Match committee members with prospects. Generally, campaign volunteers should work with three prospects at any given time. Occasionally, especially energetic campaign workers may be responsible for as many as five prospects to solicit.
- Report. Announce and recognize successful solicitors, monitor cultivation progress, and encourage those with solicitations in progress.
Schedule campaign meetings as far in advance as possible. Prepare detailed agendas with time allotments and distribute them in advance. Enlist the participation of campaign volunteers to present information during the meeting and ensure that they are given written notice and thoroughly briefed prior to the meeting date.
Prepare detailed materials for distribution at each meeting. Use visual aids as appropriate. If you will be using equipment such as computers and screens for presentations, test the equipment before the meeting so that unexpected technical difficulties will not interrupt meeting business.
For these working meetings, stick to the point and make sure that whoever is chairing the meeting keeps the agenda moving. Your volunteers’ most valuable commodity is their time.
For more elaborate, formal meetings, create an inviting environment and atmosphere so that committee members will want to come back for the next meeting. If appropriate for your organization, ask local businesses for donations of gift baskets, gift certificates to restaurants and other special items for use as door prizes (to spur continued attendance) and drawings for those completing solicitation calls or visits (as an added incentive).
Use the following checklist to assist you in preparing for your meeting.
Before the meeting:
- Written notice/invitation and re-confirmation telephone calls
- Speaker briefing and notes
- Meeting listing and posted signs for meeting locations
- Posters/banners/training signs/organization chart/timetable
- Refreshments – coffee, tea, soft drinks, water, fruit
At the meeting:
- Directions for participants
- Coat racks
- Podium and microphone
- Presentation equipment (computer, screens) – extension cords
- Visual aids
- Invocation/opening prayer/master of ceremonies/introductions
- Meeting materials – reports, manuals, forms, lists
- Pens and note paper
- Manuals, workbooks, and take-away materials
Also, if appropriate:
- Attendance/registration table – name tags
- Video recorder
By using this checklist, you can create meetings that accomplish campaign goals with efficiency and “sizzle”. Your behind-the-scenes efforts to orchestrate successful meetings not only illustrate your respect for campaign volunteers and their time, but also have a dramatic impact on the continued forward progress of the campaign