Major Fundraising Campaigns Are Alive and Effective
It struck me as odd. And then it frustrated me.
A recap of a recent fundraising conference cited a speaker on strategic planning as noting that the days of major campaigns are over and that organizations are going to ongoing campaigns.
I have to confess — as someone who loves a valid strategic planning process, I abhor consultants who lead a planning process and then direct their clients to outcomes. The plans look a lot alike. And the consultants too often pick up another gig to help implement what they influenced.
Valid strategic planning understands that every organization — even ones part of national systems — is unique. But even more so, it frustrated me because the planner has no depth of fundraising experience. And now at least a few folks are scurrying back and sharing a "trend" that is not real.
Yes, many institutions are in perennial campaigns — whatever that might mean for that institution. An annual-giving program for sure. An endowment program hopefully. Maybe a special major-gifts effort or a strategic series of smaller campaigns. The approach should be tailored to the organization and its valid needs — and potential — at that period in time. We are big proponents of an organization not in a campaign having a diverse menu of major-gift opportunities to share with potential donors.
However, larger campaigns are alive and well and can be incredibly effective. The benefits of a larger (and typically periodic) major campaign include:
- Allowing an organization to meet many needs — often capital, endowment and annual
- Providing clarity to donors in terms of the organization's priorities and the role that they can play
- Pushing capacity building
- Providing larger opportunities — expands horizons and encourages stretching, particularly among those who benchmark giving
- Marshaling volunteers who are drawn to a larger vision
- Recruiting volunteers who want a defined period of involvement
- Providing synergy from pulling together a team of staff and volunteers
- Building a sense of urgency
- Allowing smaller donors to be a part of a major effort
- Creating a buzz and excitement
- Energizing giving to take a dramatic leap versus incremental increases
- Allowing for stages and phases of planning, implementation and assessment