One of the questions I often get when making a presentation to community college leadership or a foundation board is “why should we hire campaign counsel?” After all, some will go on to say, didn’t we hire the best development director we could find? Shouldn’t that person have all of the skills necessary to run a campaign?
I was always tempted to answer this question with a list of specific advantages that campaign counsel brings to a campaign, even if there is a very talented development team. I always made it clear that whether our firm was chosen or another, counsel was still vitally important to the college’s success. My list would include such things as:
- The ability of outside counsel to bring an objective approach to the campaign
- Our ability to guide the campaign through the many twists and turns that always occurs
- Our ability to keep the campaign team energized for the duration
- Our experience in integrating best practices from throughout the country
- Our assistance in guiding the best strategies for developing gift proposals
- Our background in teaching and mentoring campaign teams, committees, and leadership
- Our assistance in forming the best campaign marketing plans, websites, and social media
And the list went on until I thought I’d really hit a home run with my answer.
However, even though these are important parts of the job of campaign counsel, I believe providing an analogy might be an even stronger approach. Let’s look at the world of sports for example. Think of some of the country’s greatest athletes. Think Tiger Woods back in the mid-2000s, Mark Phelps in his record setting Olympics, or Serena Williams today; would any of them even think about approaching a major competition without a coach? The college may have hired the best development director that they could find, but, like any athlete before and during a major competition, the coach is there to provide support, encouragement, training, and guidance.
That’s what we do.