Capital Campaign Non Profit Fundraising Consultants

The Employee Campaign

Article By William C. Krueger

It seems as though every organization with a significant number of employees has a different way of managing a capital campaign for those employees. Years of experience, and countless employee campaigns, have developed a model of conducting a major capital campaign to the employees.

Importance of the Employee Campaign

Because of sheer numbers, an employee campaign can raise a significant amount of money for the campaign, perhaps $50,000 - $100,000, maybe more – if done correctly.

And, while morale and work environment does have some impact on the giving, if done correctly, an employee campaign can help build morale and raise significant amounts of money.

Additionally, showing hundreds of people, even if they are employees, supporting the campaign will help create "campaign atmosphere" in the community, especially small communities. Additionally, showing that the employees support the campaign will help encourage others in the community to support the campaign since, after all, don't the employees know the most about the needs of the organization?

The employees should be asked to support the campaign NOT just because they are employees, but because they will benefit from the improvements to the organization - as would any person in the community. Outline for them both the internal benefits that will accrue to them as employees, but also how they, like all members of the community, will benefit from the improvements to the organization. In other words, talk to them like employees AND friends in the community.

How Should an Employee Campaign Be Conducted? (Overview)

Any employee campaign should start with the senior executives/managers.

By the time you do the FIRST meeting with the Directors/Managers, EVERY one of the executives should have made their gift. It's critical to start there, with a nice sum already committed. This support should encourage other employees to give generously, and will make it easier for each of you to present the details of the employee campaign.

After the executives have given, the CEO should bring all of the managers/directors together at one time for a campaign meeting (see below for description of "campaign meeting" since it is the repetitive part of the employee campaign). Because, as a general rule, these managers/directors represent the higher paid employees it would be anticipated that their gifts would provide an impressive kick-off to the employee campaign.

Each manager will be asked for one thing, and instructed to do a second. Each will be asked to make a gift in the form of a check, payroll deduction or regular pledge. Obviously, you want them to do a five-year payroll deduction gift – you need momentum in the campaign, and a strong employee campaign will do it quicker than anything. The critical thing is to stress the timing … you don't want employees thinking they can take six months to make a decision.

In addition to asking for their personal gift, each manager/director should be instructed to arrange one, or maybe two, meetings that ALL of their “direct-report” staff can attend. It is critical that the CEO make the manager/director responsible for getting ALL of their staff to one of these meetings. While different departments CAN combine meetings, a central key to success in this type of employee campaign is to get departments together as a whole. Let the group dynamics take over. Having multiple departments together at once diminishes the effectiveness of the solicitation meetings.

Included in getting the meeting together, it is important that the director/manager know that they are responsible for securing a decision from each employee – not a gift, just a decision. In other words, their job is to get the employee to return a card, whether they make a gift or not. Generally, the manager/director emphasizes this in the meeting, and through regular communication.

Providing incentives for returning a card (not just making a gift) will encourage participation in the campaign. The cost of logo T-Shirts or even two airline tickets (raffled) will pale in comparison to the results of the campaign if you get 100% of your employees to return a card.

And, yes, it's a lot of meetings but it is also the most effective way to share the details of the project with the employees, build morale and let them feel a part of the campaign. Remember … the employees are also living in the community. You need to make sure that they know what is happening so they can be supportive when they talk to their friends and neighbors.

Depending on the number of employees, the total employee campaign should take 2 – 8 weeks.

What Happens at an Employee Campaign Meeting?

The meeting is informal. It is designed to share the details of the project/campaign with the employees and motivate them to give. Just as you would never recommend trying to "force" someone in the community to give, it is strongly urged that you remember that, even with employees, you are ASKING for a gift and not "expecting" anything. In fact, it can be set-up so that no one but the fundraiser and the payroll department know what, if anything, any employee gives.

In the meeting, there will be brief opening comments, then show the campaign video and explain the project. Answer questions and encourage everyone to support the campaign.

The key is to give each employee their envelope (containing the brochure and pledge card) and explain its contents. Actually take it out of the envelope and show them the brochure and pledge card and return envelope. It may feel awkward, but it's important to show them the contents and explain each. Show them the pledge card, and how to fill it out (a per pay period amount and when the gift will start being subtracted) Encourage each to fill it out and return it at the meeting, but also make sure they know the deadline for returning the card if they don't do it at the meeting.

Explain that the manager will keep track of who has made a decision (not a gift), and each employee is expected to return a card, whether they give a gift or not.

Does This Work?

It works remarkably well. We'll find that probably 30 – 40% of the employees will make a gift. The total raised will vary with the number of employees in the organization, but a hospital, for example, with a total of 800 employees might expect as much as $250,000.

More important, we'll find that employees react positively to the approach since it does not focus on trying to force employees into giving. We are just asking them to consider a gift, and rewarding them for making the decision.

Use the raffle, the T-Shirt and the special employee event to encourage returning the card. You really don't even have to emphasize the idea of "giving", just focus on returning a signed card, whether they give or not. It's softer and, somewhat surprising, you'll get better results.

How Much Will Each Employee Be Expected To Give?

There is no "expectation". In fact, you should provide no guidance to employees on their level of giving. You don't know the capability of each employee – perhaps they come from a very rich family or their spouse has a great paying job.

If asked "how much should we give?" just answer "just do the best you can?". In the end, you'll raise more money. Providing guidance (one hour per week would be great) does nothing but create a CEILING – those who can give more will give what was asked. Those that can't give that, aren't going to no matter where you set the level.

Also, by just saying "do your best and we'll be happy", you have a better chance of keeping employees happy. You should be grateful for EVERY gift, in part, because you are playing a numbers game here: the sheer number of employees will insure a successful employee campaign.


An employee campaign can be a positive, morale boosting experience if done correctly. It has to be adapted to the culture and spirit of each individual organization, but the above information can provide a generic outline of how it should be done.

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