Fundraising and Football Part 1: Preparation and Execution Key to Campaign Success
Football brings about a lot of passion (and agony), especially this time of year.
A few years ago, I was guest lecturing in my Lighthouse Counsel colleague Tom Landrum’s class on higher education fundraising.
Many of the students had just returned from the annual Georgia - Florida football game in Jacksonville (also referred to as the world’s largest cocktail party). As I began our discussion, I asked them to share ways that football was like fundraising, and we developed a list of 11.
A few weeks ago, Karen Kemp and I filmed a video blog on these gems, and I thought they were worth a deeper look here in Bedrocks and Beacons. So, over the next few weeks, let’s look at these 11 principles a bit more in-depth. Here are the first two:
1. It's the preparation that counts.
Tommy Lasorda said that “Pennants are won in spring training.” Athletes are training and preparing year-round for their seasons. Right now, if I decided to run a marathon in January, I would fail. I would not have had time to prepare properly.
Part of an athlete’s preparation is training and learning plays, studying, practicing, learning to function as a team and constantly improving.
The same is true of fundraising. Before you embark on a big campaign, you need to benefit and learn from the training annual giving and an annual campaign provide. In an annual campaign, you can coach and grow staff and volunteers, and learn who you would not have “in the game” during a major campaign.
Some of the fundraising preparation for a campaign includes building a qualified donor pool and refining your case.
You will need sufficient donors at the right gift levels to achieve a goal. Get the top-tier donors cultivated sufficiently for them to be prepared to share their confidential insight in a campaign planning and feasibility study. This donor process includes research, identification, cultivation and (hopefully) engagement—getting them involved in your organization or deepening their involvement—before a major campaign.
2. You must execute.
You can have the best plays—and strategy—but at some point, you have to just do it. Execution in a campaign means implementing your campaign plan. You need a written road-map, and it needs to be executed—and executed properly. Strategy like maintaining the discipline of campaign phases—and especially the “quiet” phase—can make a big difference in campaigns. You’ll need leadership and, most likely, counsel to help you stay that course and remain focused and disciplined.
Players on successful teams are excited and ready to go when the game begins. The same for campaign leadership. Players are always looking over their shoulders to get affirmation and direction from the coaches to ensure plans are properly executed.
Next week, we will discuss being prepared to revise your strategy and how campaigns, like football games, are divided into smaller segments and how you can use this to maximize your success.
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.