In many organizations the top staff person – such as the executive director – is the face and voice by default. Is this the right decision? Should there be a series of faces and voices?
Many colleges and universities will use the president or chancellor as the face and voice of their campaign. For decades comedian Jerry Lewis was the face and voice of the Muscular Dystrophy Association with his Labor Day weekend telethon. Lou Rawls and the United Negro College Fund are forever tied together through the UNCF Parade of Stars Telethon. And during the years when people feared to say the word AIDS Elizabeth Taylor lent her name and passion to serving as a face and voice for those who were suffering. That work is continued by Magic Johnson and Elton John.
We recommend that you have a conscious discussion about how to tell your organization’s fundraising story. If you decide to go with a spokesperson, take time to ask questions such as these:
• Does the person know the organization well enough to tell its story?
• Can they make a meaningful gift themselves?
• Can they create excitement and motivate people to get involved and give?
• Can they speak to your constituency with regularity?
• Are they nonpolitical and noncontroversial?
• Are they easily recognizable and admired by your constituency?
• Do they have a demonstrated belief in the mission, vision, values, and goals of your organization?
• Can they recruit their peers to participate at the fi nancial level that they do? • Are they accessible?
• Have they had a meaningful relationship with the orgnaization, or are they “new to the game?” As you begin to think about who you want to position as the face and voice of the organization, ask yourself:
• What are your expectations of this person?
• Will your expectations be different if the person is the CEO vs. a “personality”
• Is this person believable?
• Should we have a face and voice? Should we put all our eggs in one basket, or is our case strong enough without a face and voice?
• Who should be the backup in case this person doesn’t work out?
• Do you have complete buy-in from stakeholders internally and externally re: this person being the face and voice.
Take the time to ask the right questions of yourselves and your potential spokesperson. You want this partnership to be a blessing and not a curse.
Copyright 2019 – Mel and Pearl Shaw [When you are ready to build a fund development program, grow your fundraising, or increase board engagement we are here to help. (901) 522-8727. www.saadandshaw.com.]