Why Most Fundraising Campaigns Are Long-Term Failures
Some people are going to be upset when they read this.
The reason? They've invested their entire careers in campaigns, and for a bozo like me to come along and say that most campaigns are long-term failures is a sword thrust to their souls.
But I must say it. Here's why …
Jeff and I have been saying over and over again in this blog that the whole thing is about donors — getting them, keeping them, and loving and caring for them. It is about relationship. It is about life. It is not about one transaction. It is a long-term thing.
Key word: long-term.
By definition a campaign is a short-term event. There is a specific project and a time-limited, specific goal. And that's where, in most cases, the problem starts. I say "most cases" because I have met some fundraisers who have this right.
So, picture this. A major-gifts program is humming along experiencing double-digit growth from year to year, but because of budget pressures the manager decides the organization needs to have a campaign. So the manager hires these capital campaign folks to "do" the organization's operational campaign — a time-limited, specific-focus, specific-dollar campaign.
Now the major-gifts team is focused on making the campaign happen. So the major-gifts officers are talking to their caseload donors, not about an ongoing long-term relationship in this great cause, but about whether they will participate in this campaign with a gift of X or Y.
Here's where it gets real subtle, and unless you listen really well, you will not be able to hear the nuance that causes this whole thing to go bad. If you listen well, you hear that the language is about a transaction, not about a relationship. It is about filling a spot on a gift pyramid, not about this important cause. It is about when this all has to be done in order to reach goal, not about outcomes and lives changed.
If you’re hanging with Richard it won’t be long before you’ll be laughing.
He always finds something funny in everything. But when the conversation is about people, their money and giving, you’ll find a deeply caring counselor who helps donors fulfill their passions and interests. Richard believes that successful major-gift fundraising is not fundamentally about securing revenue for good causes. Instead it is about helping donors express who they are through their giving. The Connections blog will provide practical information on how to do this successfully. Richard has more than 30 years of nonprofit leadership and fundraising experience, and is founding partner of the Veritus Group.