Most capital campaigns come down to the successful solicitation of approximately 20 or 30 gifts and the work of a very few people who are involved in soliciting one lead gift after another. Often the executive director and a few key board members become a powerful team, committed to doing what needs to be done to make the campaign successful.
They are usually the people who hold relationships with many donors, are leaders in the organization and have the temperament and tenacity to persist through thick and thin.
A Small but Mighty Power Team for your Campaign
But behind that small but mighty campaign power team are a host of others who make their work possible. In today’s post, you’ll learn what it takes to support the work of the power solicitation team and what you can do to facilitate the success of your campaign — whether you are a staff member or a volunteer.
A successful campaign power team has several things that provide the foundation for success:
- a sound campaign strategy
- a great deal of information about the donors they are going to solicit
- a well-organized campaign in which the progress and plans are clear and well-documented
- a positive and supportive mindset
When these aspects of a campaign are done well, the campaign looks almost effortless. But when any one of them is missing, the work of the top people is compromised.
It takes a capable group of staff and volunteers to accomplish the high level of planning and execution required.
4 Essential Indicators of a Successful Campaign
Take a look at each of these four aspects of your campaign. Does your organization’s support team check the key boxes below?
Board and staff members often believe that they need a campaign brochure in the beginning of the campaign and that if they send that brochure to their donors, campaign gifts will come in. This misconception, if not nipped in the bud, can doom your campaign.
Successful campaigns are organized strategically to involve key people early in the process, solicit the largest gifts first and solicit them in the most personal and appropriate way possible. Effective campaign strategy delays the public phase of the campaign until 65% or even more of the campaign goal has been raised.
An organization planning a campaign must be able to articulate clearly and simply why the campaign is important in terms of the impact it will have on the people they serve. Those ideas will become the unifying theme of the campaign.
The gift range chart, when combined with a compelling case, is the primary planning tool for your campaign. It will provide clear strategy for your campaign and will focus the energy of your power solicitation team where it belongs — on the top gifts and donors.
Answer yes / no to the statements below to see if your campaign has the right strategy for success. If all of your answers are yes, you’re heading in the right direction.
We know and can articulate a clear, compelling, and simple case for support that is exciting and makes sense.
We have a gift range chart that has been developed to fit our campaign and the size of our organization’s donor base.
Our board understands and accepts that the initial phases of our campaign are entirely focused on successfully soliciting the top 20 to 30 gifts.
We know who the right people are to solicit those top gifts and they have agreed to do so.
Some organizations fall into the trap of thinking that the money they seek for their lead gifts will come from people who have a great deal of money. While money is important when identifying the people to solicit, it’s far from the only qualification.
For your key solicitation team to be successful, they will need as much information as possible about the people they are going to solicit. The people they will solicit should be qualified donors. That is, they should have the financial capacity to make the gift they are asked for, they should be interested in your mission, and they should have a direct connection with your organization. We refer to these prospects as ABC-qualified — A (Ability), B (Belief), C (Contact).
Your development team of staff and volunteers will help gather and organize the information the solicitation team will need to prepare to ask each of those donors for gifts.
Answer yes / no to the statements below to see if your campaign has the right information for success. If all of your answers are yes, you’re heading in the right direction.
Our development department keeps accurate records and information about donors that will enable us to identify those that are ABC-qualified.
Our development team asks volunteers to review donor lists and add information and insight as a way of further qualifying donors.
We have a system of developing solicitation strategy for each of the lead prospective donors that enables each solicitation to be carefully planned according to the individual donor’s interests and preferences.
Successful campaigns are well-organized. A campaign plan, developed early in the campaign, covers key elements that establish a plan. They include a compelling case for support, a preliminary campaign timeline, a statement of campaign policies, an organizational chart of campaign committees and staffing, a donor recognition plan and, of course, the all-important gift range chart.
Without having thought through the campaign plan and timeline early, the campaign might flounder.
Successful campaigns require a great deal of courage and a clear campaign plan. The plan should be updated over time, which helps both staff and volunteers stay on track.
Answer yes / no to the statements below to see if your campaign has the right organization for success. If all of your answers are yes, you’re heading in the right direction.
We have developed a preliminary campaign timeline that provides ample time to solicit the largest gifts before broadening the campaign to the public.
We have a set of campaign policies that lays out the critical elements of our campaign including the working goal, staffing, committee structure and donor recognition plan.
Our staff works diligently to make sure that the board and solicitation team understand the campaign plan and are informed as it is updated.
Capital campaigns require courage. In particular, the people on your small but mighty power team who are soliciting those largest early gifts need a remarkable amount of psychological grit and determination.
At the early stages of a campaign, when they are soliciting the largest gifts, the success of the project is far from determined. Your team must present enough confidence to encourage those largest donors to make outsized commitments.
Once those top 20 to 30 gifts have been committed, the way forward seems far more certain. But in the beginning, the mindset of the people soliciting those gifts is all-important. They’ve got to convince themselves, and prospective donors, that the project is important and that the chances of success are high.
What does it take to have that positive mindset? In addition to a passion for the project and a willingness to take some risk, the team must exude confidence and positivity.
If the key solicitors know that the campaign strategy is sound, that they are well-prepared with the information they need and that the campaign is well-organized, they will be better able to step forward and make those all-important early requests for large gifts.
But they also need a supportive team of staff and volunteers to encourage them. Every early solicitation should be encouraged and supported. And every early gift should be celebrated and reported to the small team of solicitors and campaign insiders.
Answer yes / no to the statements below to see if your campaign has the right mindset for success. If all of your answers are yes, you’re heading in the right direction.
The reasons we are having a campaign are exciting and compelling and our key solicitors understand them fully.
We are set up for success with a sound campaign strategy, effective system for gathering information and an excellent organization.
Our key solicitors have the mindset and qualities that will enable them to step forward with confidence.
The Magic of a Successful Campaign
When the pieces are in place, it doesn’t take very many large gifts to be committed for the campaign to take on a sense that success is inevitable. That doesn’t mean that the campaign won’t encounter setbacks. But that when it does, it will be able to find the best path forward. And when that happens, volunteers, staff and donors are all excited to be a part of the campaign process.
The requirements for success are extremely practical and sensible. But they take sustained attention.
If you haven’t been able to answer all of the questions in each of the sections of this post with a YES, take a step back and consider what you need to change to get your organization set up for success. You might benefit from a free strategy session with one of our campaign experts — apply here and let us show you the way!