By Yvette LeGear Hartsfield, MA, CFRE, CAP, Vice President of Campaigns
Embarking on a comprehensive campaign is an exciting opportunity for any nonprofit and the catalyst for significant growth into the future. This is an opportunity to maximize the goodwill of your nonprofit in the community.
A clear vision is the foundation for a successful campaign. This vision for the future should expand program delivery by increasing participants and/or provide enhanced services. A successful campaign will elevate your nonprofit. Unlike your annual fundraising campaign (operating dollars), a comprehensive campaign is generally conducted once every 10 to 15 years. It requires herculean effort on the part of everyone in the organization to complete successfully. But the results are worth the effort.
While campaigns start with a clear vision and grow the nonprofit, campaigns also build the infrastructure that is often overlooked in the day to day.
Campaigns give you a direct opportunity to focus on your major donors and get to know them better. This is a unique chance to invite your donors to partner with you in an exciting new endeavor that will make a significant impact on the community. Donors often will give an increased gift up to 10 times their annual contribution because they want to see you succeed and want to leave their own legacy behind. Along with cultivating your current donors closer, this is also an opportunity for your nonprofit to uncover new funders and major gift donors.
Renew Your Development Team
Often, a comprehensive campaign will renew excitement within your development team. A healthy nonprofit is always growing, reaching new heights. Being part of a campaign with a compelling vision equips your development team with new messaging and new opportunities to share.
Build Your Development Program
Campaigns can be the catalyst for moving your development program away from a scarcity mindset. You will need additional development staff when embarking on a significant campaign. Often when we are in annual fundraising mode, our organizations will not invest in the development department to its full potential. If you have a significant amount of donor prospects, you will need major gift officers to cultivate and solicit them. And your team will be doing more activity including conducting increased donor meetings, campaign committee meetings, cultivation events, data entry and enhancement, and gift processing and fulfillment.
Take the time to build a strong development team that will support this additional amount of activity. Remember, you will still be fundraising for annual operating funds while adding comprehensive campaign functions. Campaigns have the best return on investment over any other fundraising method. Depending on the size of your nonprofit, campaigns are only 8% to 15% of the overall goal.
You should not decrease the size of your development team when campaign activity comes to an end. After the campaign is successfully completed, you will have improved and increased your donor base. And, you will have a team in place to continue your good work in the years following.
When you have successfully finished your campaign, you will have accomplished not only fulfilling the campaign case, but also increased number of major donors, stronger relationships with your donors, a renewed spirit within your team and stronger development program infrastructure.
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