Your board has determined the need for a fundraising campaign, and you are responsible for elevating this activity. How do you know if your organization is ready to implement a successful campaign?
Your first step in determining campaign readiness is confidently answering “yes” to the following questions:
- Do you have defined goals that require funding?
- Is your data in an implementable status and do you know who your prospects are?
- Do you have a compelling story to tell?
- Does your staff have the bandwidth to effectively implement a campaign?
- Is your Board ready to lead a campaign?
- Have you defined an adequate philanthropic goal and timeline to complete?
- Do you have a well-defined volunteer structure?
- Are your volunteers ready to serve on a committee or request funds from others?
Four previous CCS client partners, who each developed the successful foundations for their campaigns, provide their advice from the field — sharing their perspective and recommendations for any organization considering embarking on a campaign.
The Feasibility and Planning Study
All successful campaigns begin with an informed roadmap. To provide your organization with this information and confidence, implementing a feasibility and planning study is the first step in building your campaign foundation. A study will inform the following areas:
- Prospects’ relationships to your organization and their perception of your progress
- Reactions to your initial case for support and areas of need
- Advice on success directly from your prospects and supporters
- Individuals’ willingness to engage in your proposed campaign
- Overall view of the philanthropic climate and economy
Determining an Informed Campaign Goal
Your study provides a wealth of knowledge and guides your organization to understand the preliminary potential of your campaign. For many organizations, campaigns are developed out of financial necessity. The reality is that many organizational financial goals may not align with a philanthropic goal feasible from their network of prospects. A planning study provides qualitative feedback directly from your constituents around their willingness and initial interest in the project. This valuable information helps ensure you set a preliminary ambitious, yet achievable, fundraising goal.
Julie Lucas, Chief Advancement Officer | Darlington School | Rome, GA | Campaign Quiet Phase 2023
Case for Support Development
The next phase of campaign readiness ensures your organization can effectively define and articulate your case for support or organizational need. Your case explains “why” your organization exists and serves as a physical document that articulates all that your organization does and the impact it has in your community. To fully define your fundraising case, you must answer the following questions:
- Who are you?
- What do you do in the community?
- How do you create positive change?
- Why do you need support?
- How much do you need?
- When do you need it?
- How will your campaign make an impact on your organization and those you serve?
Preparing your case for support prior to launching your campaign ensures that your organization and recruited volunteers feel confident in sharing the message and inviting others’ support. Clear direction and confident communication are essential to any successful campaign.
Recruiting Strong Volunteers
Volunteers are the lifeblood of any organization in both carrying out your mission and supporting it in the early campaign stages. Identifying and engaging the best volunteers is an essential step in determining if your organization is ready to take on a campaign.
Passionate volunteerism begins with your board and disseminates through your entire organizational community. It is important to identify and recruit volunteers who are:
- Engaged in the mission and willing to work
- Leading by example
- Enthusiastic and positive
- Attending meetings and making themselves available
- Active participants in your work and respond in a timely manner
- Offering practical and supportive advice on prospects and strategy
Msgr. John J. Enzler, Retired CEO Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Washington | Washington, DC | Completed $100,000,000 Campaign | 2021
Analyzing Your Data
A foundational element of any successful campaign includes the development of a strategic and well-informed prospect pipeline. Utilizing data analytics tools to understand your database provides the first step in developing a pipeline that will drive your campaign activity.
Data analytics tools, including predictive modeling, Monte Carlo simulations, or RFM analysis, provide organizations the opportunity to understand those prospects most likely to become major donors, those individuals with potential to engage in a campaign, and those who should be researched further. Your campaign pipeline should be developed with a top 75-100 prospect list and a robust list of additional prospects, providing a runway for campaign success.
David Sears, Vice President of Institutional Advancement | McDaniel College | Westminster, MD | Campaign Readiness Phase 2023
Developing Your Campaign Plan
The final step to your campaign readiness is to ensure you have a campaign plan prepared prior to the launch of your campaign efforts. A successful campaign plan will include:
- Organizational structure
- Roles and responsibilities
- Table of gifts
- Marketing and communications plan
- Goals and benchmarks
- Donor recognition plan
- Gift acceptance policies
A strategic and robust campaign plan provides organizations the opportunity to drive activity in your campaign and ensures effective implementation.
Norm Wedderburn, President/CEO | Make-A-Wish Southern Florida | Completed $20,000,000 Campaign | 2021
Preparing for your next campaign is no small task. Addressing the foundational principles of your case, leadership, prospects, and plan are essential to developing your campaign and providing your organization with the confidence to move forward successfully.
Year-end fundraising campaigns are an opportunity to provide donors with every possible option to support your mission.
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