A Campaign Planning Study Is About the Donors!
Too often, I see a campaign planning and feasibility study becoming more about the institution and not the donors!
I was visiting with a group of volunteers about a campaign planning and feasibility study. One leader, the pastor of a large church, shared that the firm the church (in a medium-sized community) used had the church ask interviewees to come to the church for interviews. Then, during the interviews, they were shown renderings of the church’s plans and asked to respond.
Each firm is different and its approach will vary. Granted, with a church, there will be more of an internal constituency, and most leaders are usually pretty bought in (though we have uncovered situations where this was not the case). However, this approach seems more about the church than the donors and violates a few basic principles.
First, it was more about convenience for the consultants, and not the potential donors. You honor someone by being willing to visit his or her home or office. Yes, you might be able to see two or three more individuals or couples in a day, but at what cost?
Second, you miss a great learning opportunity. When you are in someone’s home or office, you can establish a greater bond and learn about them. What is on the wall? What kind of home or office is it? Who is here?
Third, if you are truly asking for advice and counsel—which is how we approach a study—then it is not just about the money. When you bring someone in to look at finished and flashy renderings, then it is clear to them—it’s a done deal. If you do this, you had better have involved that person somehow up that point. People support what they help create.
A campaign planning and feasibility study should be like everything we do as fundraising professionals—always put the donor or prospective donor first!
Looking for Jeff? You'll find him either on the lake, laughing with good friends, or helping nonprofits develop to their full potential.
Jeff believes that successful fundraising is built on a bedrock of relevant, consistent messaging; sound practices; the nurturing of relationships; and impeccable stewardship. And that organizations that adhere to those standards serve as beacons to others that aspire to them. The Bedrocks & Beacons blog will provide strategic information to help nonprofits be both.
Jeff has more than 25 years of nonprofit leadership experience and is a member of the NonProfit PRO Editorial Advisory Board.