Over the years, I’ve learned a ton from the amazing Nick Fellers, the CEO of For Impact. I’ve adapted some of his ideas for capital campaign fundraising.
I’m happy to introduce you to another gem from Nick – “Action Forcing Events.”
Action Forcing Events – Perfect for Capital Campaigns
Below is the post Nick put out on May 12, 2023. I am reposting it here because creating events that force action on the part of a donor is so very useful during the quiet phase of a campaign which often feels like a long, unbroken slog.
Using an Action Forcing Event to Close Gift Commitments
Reposted from ForImpact blog – May 12, 2023
When we find ourselves struggling to firm up pending commitments, we often look at ways to use an Action Forcing Event as part of our follow-up strategy.
The concept was first introduced to me by someone who had spent his career in the U.S. State Department. He served as a committed board member and we were working together on a campaign. At the time, we’d had many great gift conversations, but most of them had dragged on for months and months. He said:
“Nick, I think what we need in this instance is an Action Forcing Event. Working in the State Department, nothing was ever accomplished without an Action Forcing Event. You see… we would just make up events and special ceremonies to create deadlines… to get people to complete work, or make decisions (by the date of the event).”
The Action Forcing Event brings a timing rationale — and a deadline — into the ask conversation. Examples:
- “We have a board meeting on May 26. At that time, we’re hoping to announce our key leadership commitments. Would it be possible to have a decision by that date?”
- “We’re going to make a decision on this program’s start date on September 1. If we have the commitments in place, we’ll start this winter; otherwise we will push back one year. Would it be okay to work with you to come to a decision before this date?”
- “We’re going to close this round of funding on December 15th. If I haven’t heard anything, could I meet with you again in late November (mindful of this date)?”
- “Nick has agreed to match all pledges (up to a total of $1M) that we secure before July 1. I would like to follow-up with you ahead of this date because we could DOUBLE your commitment.”
Include a ‘timing rationale’ in your request, or in your follow-up, that you can use as a deadline for a decision. Not only does this help you manage a timeline, it has two other benefits:
- First, committing to a timeline is often a simpler stepwise commitment for a prospect to make.
- Second, by confirming a timeline, they are affirming their serious interest in the project or cause.
— Nick Fellers
You can use all the ideas Nick suggests to help create a sense of urgency and momentum that is so important during the quiet phase.
Use Action Forcing Events during the Quiet Phase of Your Campaign
In capital campaigns, we often use challenge gifts to create an internal timeline, but as Nick’s post indicates, there are many other ways to create internal deadlines to motivate donors to commit.
With special thanks to Nick Fellers. I encourage you to sign up for Nick’s weekly WOW/Newsletter. They are always worth reading.