Don't Start a Major Fundraising Campaign Without This!
Three to four times a year we at Lighthouse Counsel pass on opportunities to take over a stalled fundraising campaign because the potential client is not open to strategic counsel and changing its ways.
We are so keen on proper preparation that only once have we adopted a campaign without doing some research in the form of a planning and feasibility study. And we won't do that again.
Just yesterday I visited a nonprofit CEO. He is terrific in his sector. His organization's fundraising campaign is stuck at $1.1 million toward a $4.5 million goal, and now it needs to increase to $500,000 to pay for campaign expenses.
The organization's top gift is $200,000, and the other gifts — you guessed it — perfectly fill a $1 million gift table. There was no study and no campaign plan, but there were also no other intervening factors that should have slowed progress. The nonprofit has a strong mission, strong board and a solid annual donor base.
It is missing what I have come to believe in so strongly — the study. A study uncovers current funding potential so a campaign can be aligned with donor perspectives to make sure it does not languish like the campaign here.
Most importantly, a proper study reveals insights from some very smart people and an organization's strongest supporters. I am still amazed at the incredibly helpful information leaders share when they trust that their remarks are held in confidence.
A study also uncovers what supporters love about an organization and what can be fine-tuned — from the organization, its image, leadership, plans and, yes, the potential campaign. From the treasure trove of information a study garners, you can then craft the proper campaign plan and drive the campaign to successful completion in a reasonable time frame!
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.