Recently I was meeting with the board of a prospective client and was asked the following question: what is the one thing that makes the most difference in a successful funding campaign? I knew the answer. I have answered that question a million times if I have answered it once. But I was surprised at my response ……….. not the content but the passion and definitiveness of the delivery. Why? Because the past four years have rendered this answer even more important today than it has ever been.
So what was my response? Leadership trumps everything else! Should you have a strategic plan grounded in benchmarked metrics? Yes. Do you need a comprehensive communications plan that allows you to build your organizations brand with investors, political leaders and the community at-large? Of course. But in the end, committed leaders always make the difference between success and failure in my opinion. I’m not talking about having the right people on your board or CEO’s that lend lip service to your initiatives. What I mean is having that highly respected, credible, collaborative and unifying leader truly engaged in what you do.
Every community and region has them. We all know who they are. But are they involved in what you do? Do they genuinely understand the value and long-term impact of sustainable economic development………… to the point of putting their muscle and reputations not just behind but way out in front of what you are trying to accomplish, including meaningful financial support? That’s what I mean by “Leadership trumps everything else!”
If you can engage that level of leader in your agenda, you can “move mountains”. I have seen it happen in places of all sizes like Atlanta, Oklahoma City, Charlotte, Dallas, Columbus, Jacksonville, Greensboro, Las Vegas, Phoenix, Denver, Minneapolis, Tulsa, Pittsburgh, and Fort Worth just to name a few. It’s incredible to watch.
If you have not been able to corral this type of engagement and support, don’t despair. It takes time; in fact, it may take years to nurture before it manifests but it can change the landscape of your community overnight. In short, nothing is more worth the effort!
So the next time you are asked that question maybe you will not only be able to provide the answer, but also a visual display of how it has worked in your community. Remember, when raising funds for an EDO, leadership trumps everything else so it’s worth the time, effort and energy to find, nurture and engage your communities true leaders!