Look at the Big Picture
A campaign is like a beautiful work of art. It should all come together to inspire and make an impact. Sometimes the detail or intricacies of a painting are evident. Sometimes you have to look for them. But they are important. When you finally stand back to enjoy the work of art, you can see how all of the elements flow together.
The best campaigns are designed with this concept in mind. They are implemented from an overall framework, from the pre-study phase to the study to any post study fine-tuning to the quiet phase—moving through the sequential phases until you joyfully announce the campaign and celebrate success.
Sometimes we encounter a client—or potential client—who has an understanding of these best practices, but would like to make an exception. Now don’t get me wrong, every campaign is unique and you have to fine-tune your strategy—and be flexible. But be sure to always keep the big picture in mind.
Recently we were talking with a potential client. Well, candidly, we were presenting to the committee. We were one of two firms that had been invited to make a personal presentation. We had been talking with the organization for months.
Then came the bombshell. The client was about two weeks away from making a decision on hiring counsel, and their CEO was anxious to start fundraising and had scheduled an ask for the lead gift that week. What did I think?
This lead gift potential really should have been incorporated into the study. I have seen in most every case major earnings from such a visit. The building would not be constructed for more than a year, and the campaign would not begin for three or four months, so the timing of the ask would not feel right.
In reality, this organization should have moved the study timeframe up a few months to adequately handle the excitement/impatience of its CEO to make this important ask. It would have been easy to do and the timing would have been more suitable overall.
For a beautiful work of art or a campaign to come together, all the pieces must work in tandem. Allow your campaign strategists the benefit of having a fresh canvas to work with to help your organization create a beautiful and successful campaign.
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.