Advancing an Organization During Challenging Economic Times
1) A newly created healthcare organization in Southern Maine with no board, no donors/database and no advancement staff worked on strategic issues, such as board development, campaign planning, messaging, and an organizational and feasibility study.
With a strong case and committed leadership, early champions were identified and brought on board, new friends were introduced and the power of personal connections created a buzz for the organization. Its planning work during the downturn in the economy allowed it to be ready when things started to improve. It recruited a strong board, completed a campaign and built a new facility, raising more than $5 million as a “start-up” enterprise.
2) Having successfully completed a capital campaign that raised $15 million, in the mid `90s a private secondary school in Boston was looking toward its next campaign with a goal of $40 million. While the timing was less than ideal, the school’s leaders did their homework, communicated their vision, “pre-sold” it to potential donors and made good decisions as they conducted a planning study that yielded important insights. They developed their messaging and case; and they recruited strong leaders for the subsequent campaign. They appeared prescient, as they closed their campaign in 2000, having raised $51 million, before the market meltdown.
A 10-point plan for advancing your organization
It is important to remember that history tells us the economy will improve. Despite major setbacks over the last 50 years (wars, corporate scandal, terrorist attacks, international turmoil), this has always been the case. In the meantime, certain measures will improve your organization’s resilience.
1. Have a plan for "right now." Develop an immediate short-term action plan to address the specific challenges and opportunities relevant to the institution.
2. Increase activity. Don’t stop or pull back; rather, take measures to increase activity, including visits and briefings with donors and friends, and frequent and targeted communications with all constituencies.