The Process of Developing Fundraising Campaign Materials
Sometimes, it is not until the concepts are on the journey to become a document that some much-needed scrutiny hits.
For a major fundraising campaign, this can occur in several stages:
- Ideally as components emerge from a strategic planning process
- In the important feasibility study phase where the ideas become a prospectus for feedback from key potential donors, influencers and other leaders
- In the campaign when the document emerges as a fundraising piece
In each stage, get the right stakeholders involved to ask the right questions. Don't be afraid to challenge, dig deeper and explore. Through this process your goals become more effective and your case stronger.
While impressive-looking materials can inspire confidence and tell a story, they also can be ineffective. Too many times I have seen boxes full of campaign materials that were printed and are now out of date. And too many times the materials are way too long and not written with the donor's perspective in mind.
Just last week I cringed when a friend shared a case statement that a public relations agency spent six months to develop. Beautiful yes, but not tailored to any donor. The printed message from the campaign chairs did nothing to connect with me, let alone a major prospect. Communications for a campaign is a very different knowledge base than external public relations or marketing.
With today's technology, we prefer print-on-demand case statements that can be tailored to each potential major donor — from personalization on the cover to a letter outlining a specific opportunity in sync with the donor's interests.
Use great writing and imagery that puts your donors into the story, helping to create better outcomes. Hone the words so they best reflect whom you are and what you are about to do.
Materials should reflect your organization, however in most instances they are props — props to make the volunteer or staff solicitor more comfortable. They are a leave-behind after an engaging conversation with the donor. It may be a piece that the donor will peruse for more information or to do some benchmarking, but in most cases it is the conversation you have had asking the donor to invest — and what interactions preceded the visit - that will make the difference.
Be sure that your case statement and other campaign materials can be fine-tuned and tailored to each donor, and evolve as your campaign progresses toward its 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.