By Amy Liefer, President, Prosper Advising, Inc.

When organizations look at the makeup of their donor base and total funds raised it is likely employees account for a very small portion of the total. While the dollar amount is small, the impact and importance of employee giving is big. This is true with all types of fundraising, but most especially in capital campaigns.

Capital campaigns are a bird all their own in the world of fundraising. There’s little to no time to cultivate new relationships and more times than not, you are charged with raising 10 times your annual budget in the same time frame. Employees have the ability to help find new donors, promote the project throughout the community and ultimately position the campaign to be very successful. They are the people who external donors will be talking to before they give. Having the buy in of employees is essential to a successful campaign.

But how do you get employees to believe in the project? One sure way to boost employee support is to allow them to have input. Company leaders who engage their employees from the beginning of a project are likely to see a much larger level of involvement and support by employees than those who don’t. A sense of ownership is the tipping point for employees to feel connected to a project and for them to want it to be successful.

Company leaders must work to actively involve employees at a high level in capital projects. The fastest way to get employees to feel ownership is to keep them informed and give them some say so from the beginning of the project. Employee groups who are strictly given progress reports rather than exposed to open conversation about decisions being made are less likely to get excited and support the project.

Allowing employees to design their work spaces from the ground up is one way to achieve a very high level of buy in from employees. That fact is nobody can build a more functional work space than the people who work in that space every day. Asking employees where outlets should be placed, what kind of flooring they prefer to walk on and what color of paint inspires them to be productive not only produces a cleaner, better work space, but also ensures employee buy in.

With the time crunch of capital campaigns, finding new donors and cultivating them in the standard, fundraising manner isn’t possible. Campaigners need all the help they can get with campaign promotion and donor leads. Employees are a natural place to start. If employees don’t believe in a campaign they aren’t going to ask someone else to believe in it. The money for a campaign may be located at the top of the donor pyramid, but the door to get there is firmly rooted at the bottom.

Is your organization having trouble engaging employees or volunteers? Contact me and let me show you how Prosper Advising can help.