10. Your campaign has a definite timetable: Mini-goals are crucial to keeping the campaign running according to schedule. If you set a goal such as “Raise $500,000 in the first two months,” you will be able to stick to your schedule much more easily than if you set only a goal such as “Raise $1 million no matter how long it takes.” Set challenges for yourself and your solicitors and reward solicitors when certain goals are achieved. Don’t save the praise until the end of the campaign. Nonprofit fundraising is effective when, if possible you can say when you will break ground or have the donor event that will culminate annual giving for the year.
9. Your campaign has been planned out from start to finish: Capital campaigns generally begin with a quiet phase and end with a celebration of achieving the campaign goal, but annual campaigns still need a plan. You must begin with the end in mind. Work backwards from your celebratory event or groundbreaking and create a blueprint for how to ensure your nonprofit fundraising is effective.
8. Each campaign is created as a separate entity without compromising the efforts of concurrent campaigns: If you are working with a membership campaign, an annual campaign, and a capital campaign plan, it is essential to realize each campaign’s individual importance. Each will require different marketing materials and specialized, coordinated approaches to donors. It is a fear of some campaign committees that a capital campaign will hinder the annual fund efforts. If done correctly, a capital campaign will often strengthen and grow annual efforts.
7. A capital campaign ask is very different from an annual campaign ask: While that may seem obvious, when soliciting funds for an annual appeal, you are asking donors to support short-term objectives. When soliciting funds for capital improvements, you are asking donors to believe in your dream and to help realize your congregation’s vision. More often than not, successful capital gifts are realized over a period of 3-5 years, so you are truly asking a donor to make a significant investment in your organization.
6. Solicitors make their own gift before asking others: The most compelling solicitation is one that includes the words, “Please join me (and my family) in making a meaningful gift to this campaign.” What better way to show how committed you are to a project than by making a gift that you feel good about and asking others to give themselves the opportunity to do the same.
5. A campaign utilizes brochures and other publicity in conjunction with personalized face-to-face appeals: While your marketing materials are important campaign tools, they are merely part of the whole campaign process. Personal, individualized meetings will generate more money and interest than direct mail or phone calls ever could. Publicity is not a substitute for good planning and a strong volunteer effort. It is not enough to ensure your nonprofit fundraising is effective.
4. Solicitors ask prospects to make a contribution at the level for which they have been rated: Your campaign leadership and staff have worked hard to estimate how much a potential donor might be willing and able to contribute to your campaign. Trust their research and ask the donor for the rated amount, even if it feels uncomfortable to ask for so much money. Remember, your meaningful gift may not be at the same level as the meaningful gift of the prospective donor in front of you, but both gifts have importance to your campaign.
3. Your campaign committee realizes that it costs money to make money: Campaigns managed by development consultants statistically raise more money than campaigns run by volunteers. These externally managed campaigns take less time and the cost is in the range of 3-7% depending upon the total funds raised. Your personnel are vital to a successful campaign, but even the best of your staff may find themselves pulled in too many directions. A consultant can keep the campaign on track by strategically planning and managing the campaign while utilizing your knowledgeable staff and lay leaders to recruit volunteer leadership.
2. Solicitors never say “no” for the donor: This is a golden rule for fundraisers. A successful campaign is the result of asking everyone to participate and knowing how to individualize those requests for money. Your campaign goals are achieved one donor at a time. No two donors are alike and, therefore, no two approaches to donors are exactly the same.
1. Your campaign is based on dollars AND number of donors: Successful Campaign Committees recognize that it is just as important to receive $18 gifts as it is to receive $1,800,000 gifts to the campaign. Raising $1 million is never as easy as soliciting $1,000 from 1,000 people. 90% of the money will come from 10% of the donors, but you need a strong donor base to make sure your nonprofit fundraising is successful now, and in the future.
Note: this post was originally published in 2006
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