Capital Campaigns

Making Big Decisions

Launching a campaign to expand the facilities that house essential programs?  I highly encourage those with dreams of expansion to watch the remarkable video and be prepared to answer these four questions repeatedly.  
Committing to these four questions from the University of Chicago’s report, Set in Stone  identifies the tipping point for a successful outcome:
1. Does this project continue to support our purpose and mission? 
2. Are we building the capacity of the organization (funding, leadership, partnerships, users) to manage this project when we are finished?  
3. Do we have the funding we need, when we need it to complete the project?
4. Is there broad community support for the project when it is completed? Will it benefit many or just a few?
Being willing to ask ourselves powerful questions repeatedly is the difference between those who thrive and those who just survive or ultimately cease to exist. 

Making the Leap

Credit

Four versions of this image hit my email inbox in the last two days.  I find it powerful and yet the context perplexing.  The commitment of the fish to make the leap is inspiring.  However, many causes have used the image to address an opportunity for expansion.  Some suggest that a new location will allow them to find their purpose.  I would suggest that an individual’s or enterprise’s purpose does not change.  If we are not finding traction in the current environment then perhaps the it is time to take the message elsewhere.  If the reason for making the leap is reap the perceived rewards of swimming in a bigger pool of water, make sure it is consistent with your values.  The number one reason a nonprofit capital campaign fails is because a real estate opportunity dominated a cause’s decision-making.  The organization sees a deal that it cannot let slip away and launches a fundraising effort only to find itself lying on the table between two bowls of water.


Be true to your purpose and you will find you can swim in many different bodies of water.  

One of the best resources I use repeatedly when it comes to executing a fundraising campaign is Stuart Grover’s book Capital Campaigns.  He does a tremendous job of outlining the key steps, considerations, and resources to execute a successful campaign. What is most effective is about Stuart’s method is that it is simple and focuses on the fundamentals.

When it comes to asking for money, the process is clear that most individuals expect to be solicited for contributions. In fact the average American is barraged by appeals (email, mail, websites, phone calls, text messages, special events, etc). What helps differentiate the truly successful organizations and their fundraising efforts and the ones that just make a lot of noise is the ability to align donors with individuals they trust. If a potential donor hears from a trusted source they are much more likely to give serious consideration to making a donation. If you are the trusted source that is making the appeal, then you ability to communicate that you have invested your time, talent, treasurer and/or touch (as outlined in the Generosity Factor) is a essential. You have put some poker chips into the pot- so to speak. You have made a commitment and now you are sharing the opportunity for others to join you in this tremendous opportunity.

How do you connect with your donors and supporters? Do you have the right trusted source connecting with right donors? Has the person the donor trusts made a significant investment of their own in the project?

Raising the Stakes

Simple reminder last week.  I was checking-out after getting a much needed haircut.  The receptionist asked if I wanted to leave a gratuity and I said, “five dollars.”  The woman next to me had just said “five dollars” in response to the same question.  She glanced at me and then changed her mind and said, “make it ten.”  I am not sure if my gratuity influenced her or if she realized my simple haircut on a receding hairline probably cost less than hers.

One of the reasons nonprofit organizations rely on gala fundraisers is that peer pressure adds to their success.  When the auctioneer asks for all the participants to raise their paddle to ‘fund-a-need’ it is hard not to participate.  When everyone at your table is bidding it is hard not to get caught in the moment.  It takes energy to drop-out of bidding for a live auction lot if a spotlight is shining on you.

Most capital campaign fundraising strategy is sequenced.  You start with donor A.  If donor A gives you go to his or her friend donor B and leverage donor A’s gift.  Sometimes you will even take Donor A and B with you to visit the elusive donor C who may make a bigger gift than A and B combined.  If you asked donor C for a gift with no momentum and having not tapped the network of friends you may have never been successful in setting-up a meeting.

Momentum and relationships are important factors in influencing success for your cause.  What can you do to enhance your existing relationships?

 

One of the best resources I have read and used repeatedly when it comes to executing a Capital Campaign is Stuart Grover’s book. He does a tremendous job of outlining the key steps, considerations, and resources to execute a successful campaign. What is most effective is about Stuart’s method is that it is simple and focuses on the fundamentals.

When it comes to asking for money, the process is clear that most individuals expect to be solicited for contributions. In fact the average American is barraged by appeals (email, mail, websites, phone calls, text messages, special events, etc). What helps differentiate the truly successful organizations and their fundraising efforts and the ones that just make a lot of noise is the ability to align donors with individuals they trust. If a potential donor hears from a trusted source they are much more likely to give serious consideration to making a donation. If you are the trusted source that is making the appeal, then you ability to communicate that you have invested your time, talent, treasurer and/or touch (as outlined in the Generosity Factor) is a essential. You have put some poker chips into the pot- so to speak. You have made a commitment and now you are sharing the opportunity for others to join you in this tremendous opportunity.

How do you connect with your donors and supporters? Do you have the right trusted source connecting with right donors? Has the person the donor trusts made a significant investment of their own in the project?