Your capital campaign timeline will have many phases and milestones as you lay out the sequence of events. You’ll be preparing for different stages; from planning, to solicitation, to completion.
Within your timeline, use these three major events to mark the beginning, middle and end of your campaign.
These three essential events — when properly executed — will determine the sequencing of many other important aspects of your campaign.
1. The Campaign Planning Process
Your campaign begins with the planning process.
Your campaign planning committee determines what the working goal will be, a tentative timeline, financial priorities and your case for support.
Once the planning committee has been assembled, there is no turning back! So you’ll want a clear and timely sequence of events to unfold from that point. This is especially important if your campaign is to build momentum and retain the effective participation of the campaign planners and leaders.
2. The Campaign Kickoff
The Campaign Kickoff marks the second critical point. It takes place at the end of the “Quiet Phase” of the campaign and announces the beginning of the “Public Phase.”
Although campaigns are not closely guarded secrets while you are soliciting the largest gifts and your board gifts, your capital campaign kickoff marks the beginning of the public phase of the campaign. During this final phase, you will be soliciting lower level gifts from many donors in multiple ways — in person, through mail appeals and even more broadly through social media.
Plan to hold your campaign kickoff ONLY after at least 50% of the campaign goal has been raised from major donors and your board through early solicitations. (We actually like to see 50-70% of the goal raised before you make the public announcement.)
Your campaign kickoff should take place AFTER you’ve recruited volunteer solicitors for the broad phase of the campaign, but BEFORE they being soliciting those lower level gifts.
The campaign kickoff is a very special opportunity to build spirit, obtain media attention, announce the public goal and the progress-to-date, and get the broad-based solicitation phase off to a great start.
A successful kickoff raises even more happy momentum to help you finish out the campaign. Stage it like a pep rally full of enthusiasm and positive energy.
3. The Campaign Celebration
Your final Campaign Celebration once you’ve reached your goal may be the most important event of all.
Capital campaigns always begin with clear definition and focus. However, they can easily lose their focus in a myriad of details you’ve got to attend to as the gifts come in.
The Campaign Celebration ties the knot on the campaign — it brings everything back into clear focus — by identifying EXACTLY what was accomplished and celebrating all of the important donors and volunteers.
To make the most of the campaign, bring it to a fitting conclusion with a grand public celebration that makes everyone feel happy they’ve played a role in its success.
An effective celebration draws the leadership and volunteers closer to the organization and cements those relationships for the future.
This post was adapted from Andrea Kihlstedt’s award-winning book Capital Campaigns: Strategies that Work.