What to Do When You Inherit a Fundraising Campaign

Getting your fundraising campaign plan approved is step one. Step two is maintaining and overseeing the campaign’s success. But, how do you go about making your campaign a success? How should you proceed if you face hurdles? Here are some tips to help you navigate through your newly inherited campaign.

What do you do when you inherit a capital campaign?

When you inherit a fundraising campaign, or capital campaign, you need to evaluate where the campaign stands, and where YOU stand within it. Now that you are part of a campaign, you must check if you have a strong case for support. Is the board still in support of your efforts? Is the community? Are key players willing to help you further? If your goal isn’t realistic and your case for aid is weakening, it’s time to fine-tune your approach.

After probing whether or not support still exists, you should evaluate giving trends. Have major gift leads been contributing as much as they can? How much more do we need in contributions? Are we on track to meeting at least 75% of our goal currently? Is the gift table filling out properly?

What are some of the common pitfalls when executing a capital campaign?

Before jumping into a capital campaign, you have to conduct a thorough, back-end analysis for your campaign. Some are keen on jumping into the campaign process immediately, but by not accounting for potential hurdles that could influence their goal, organizations are at risk of failing to complete their fundraising campaigns.

A back-end analysis involves assessing:

  • The capability in your database to understand existing donors
  • Which major gift leads you’re accessing (are you going back to the same major gift well over and over?)
  • How your donors and staff are approaching the steps they’re taking individually, and as a group, to meet the fundraising campaign goal (are people feeling burnt out?)

What do you do when your campaign starts well but begins to falter?

There are cases when you’ve received a few large gifts, and it seems like everything is smooth sailing. However, if you haven’t used a sequential solicitation model for your gift table (i.e. satisfying the largest gift first, then the second largest, etc.) or if members of your campaign team are beginning to feel burnt out, it’s important to regroup and understand where your campaign is faltering. Only then, can you keep moving in ways that are effective, not simply efficient.  

There are two key methods to refreshing your efforts:

1. See if your models are still strong

If they aren’t, identify areas that can be fine-tuned or where new donors or staff can come in to help with your efforts.

2. Be honest with your board and ask for help

When it comes to a fundraising campaign where you’ve invested a lot of time and money into efforts your intent on seeing through, you’re not above asking for help. No one is. By doing this, some board members may be willing to contribute more or have their constituents contribute more.

How do you create effective campaign messaging?

Although it may seem counterintuitive, when creating a fundraising campaign, it’s best to refrain from making the messaging about you. During the campaign process, you have to make the donor the hero of the story. Instead of articulating the goal and accomplishments of your organization, it’s more effective to create interpersonal connections by showing your audience your investment in:

  • The community
  • Individual lives
  • The project
  • The impact of your project

Once you’ve been able to express your intent and forge a connection with your community members, it’s crucial to express your gratitude. Simply put, say ‘thank you’. Thank them for their efforts in making your project a success. After all, this project, this goal, will benefit them. It’s intended to. It’s simply your responsibility to show them that their contributions have been put to good use.

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