Fundraising and Football Part 2: Segment Your Campaign and Be Prepared to Adjust Your Strategy
Last week, we discussed preparation and execution in part one of this fundraising and football series. This week, we're covering two more things fundraisers can learn from the game.
3. Segment your campaigns.
Campaigns, like football, are divided into smaller segments—a half, a quarter, a series of plays, a play. The best campaigns are broken into strategic segments, each building on the last, and each building momentum.
“Nothing is particularly hard if you divide it into small jobs,” Henry Ford wrote.
A campaign can be overwhelming, but large or small they all include the same components and steps—just with larger or smaller gifts.
Recently, I was talking with a prospective client. The CEO said that two of his fellow nonprofit CEO’s in the community had mentioned that their campaigns were stalled. I happen to have enough information on both to know that the campaigns were not segmented appropriately.
If you are a frequent reader (thank you!) you know I love Tommy Lasorda’s wisdom that pennants are won in spring training. If I tried to run a marathon in a few weeks, I would fail miserably. It would take me a year of training to even think about undertaking a race successfully.
Likewise, by dividing a campaign into segments—ideally, planning years before the first ask—you will help ensure success. Cultivation for a campaign gift, for example, typically best occurs before a campaign, not in its midst. And before you begin a vital campaign-study, you should take steps to identify and cultivate your top prospects and refine your case for support.
4. Be prepared to revise your strategy.
When things don't go as planned, good or bad, be prepared to adjust, adapt and excel.
“You have to be fast on your feet and adaptive, or else a strategy is useless,” said French general and statesman Charles de Gaulle.
Be prepared for the unexpected by being a stickler for best practices. When you are grounded in a proven campaign approach, based on research, then you will be prepared to adjust your strategy when the unexpected happens.
For example, if at the top of your gift table you don’t have sufficient qualified prospects, what will happen if an “expected” gift falls through for some reason? Likewise, what will you do if you receive a gift that far exceeded any expectation, and has you close to meeting the goal far earlier than planned and anticipated?
Develop a sound campaign plan, but be sure that you have back-up plans if a leader (staff or volunteer) leaves the picture, if a gift comes in above or below the expected level, etc.
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.