Be Sure Your Campaign Leadership Is Invested!
Stop. That is what I wanted — and needed — to tell my friend. And I did this with a follow-up call after I heard the news.
For the second time, an organization I deeply care about was embarking on recruiting leadership for a yet-to-be-defined campaign. And the leadership invitation was not accompanied by a gift request. The last time, the campaign was announced with a splash and went nowhere.
If you engage volunteer leadership in a campaign — and it dramatically increases your success if done correctly — you need the right strategy. This includes preparation, and it includes leadership that makes a leadership gift — whatever that means for your particular organization and effort.
Of course, we see a feasibility and planning study as an essential first step of any effort of $500,000 and above. That market research validates your plans, shows you the right strategy, uncovers challenges you will face, benchmarks the right goal and then, when implemented, allows you to raise more money in less time.
So, what to do? For this organization, I advised returning to the one chair that was invited and making a gift request. Then, cultivate the other potential chairs, involving them in a process to determine some capital, endowment and programmatic components. Because of a timeline driving them, they need to cultivate and communicate like crazy. But not in a campaign mode — yet. The organization has two boards and great faculty and staff that it can engage in this cultivation program.
Then, when these folks have a better concept of the components, they will have a base of leadership and prospective donors cultivated.
You need timelines to drive campaign readiness — research, study, cultivation and more. Preparation can't last forever. However, jumping out without the correct preparation, you most likely will embark on a campaign that lasts forever and that may languish before it ever hits goal.
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.