Meet Tanya, the president of a large community college foundation.
Tanya has just started getting ready for a campaign and we’re working with her to make sure that she’s poised for great success. Her college’s campaign is not going to start for at least another year.
First, the master plan has to be finished. Then the board needs to approve the objectives of the campaign and the working goal.
She’s got to assemble a campaign planning committee, recruit campaign chairs, write the case for support… and more.
All of that’s important for success. And all of it takes time! Lots has to happen before Tanya’s team starts soliciting gifts for even the quiet phase of the campaign.
Or does it?
A Fantastic Opportunity for a Major Gift NOW
Recently George, a businessman and major philanthropist, came to Tanya and said that he and his family were considering making a challenge gift to support several projects at the college.
While the gift amount hasn’t been tied down yet, George said it would probably be $1,000,000 or more.
Here’s the question Tanya’s wrestling with…
Should Tanya take advantage of the donor’s immediate interests and tie down a gift now?
Or should she talk to the donor about the upcoming campaign and ask him to wait until the planning is complete and the campaign objectives and goals are clear?
The answer is clear!
ALWAYS go with the donor’s timetable. When a donor is ready to consider a big gift, your answer is YES.
Just because your campaign isn’t fully formed and ready to go doesn’t mean that you won’t be able to count the donor’s large gift in your campaign goal.
Because you can “grandfather” gifts into your campaign goal that were made before the campaign got started!
How to Grandfather Gifts into Your Capital Campaign
If George and his family make a gift of $1,000,000 to the community college campaign this year, when the campaign gets rolling in two years, the college may be able to count the large gift toward the campaign goals.
To do that properly, they have to account for two things.
- First, the objectives of the campaign must include the projects that George’s gift was intended for.
- Second, the campaign policies that spell out the specifics of the campaign must be written so that George’s gift will be included.
Clear, well-written campaign policies are a standard and important element of every well-planned capital campaign.
Among other items relating to gift accounting, gift crediting and donor recognition, the policies should state clearly what gifts will be included in the campaign goal. It’s quite common for organizations to write policies so they can count gifts given before the start of the campaign as long as they can be used for the campaign objectives.
So, what should Tanya do?
Tanya should talk with George and his family about the gift they would like to make. To the extent possible, she should direct their attention to projects that she believes will be included in the campaign objectives.
Then, when the campaign plan is developed, she should make sure that the campaign policies are written in a way that will include George’s gift.
The campaign policies might, for example, include all gifts to fund the campaign objectives that were committed between January 1st of this year and January 1st, 2020. Bingo. With campaign policies like that, George’s gift will count.
Not only will that honor George’s desire to make a gift now, but when the campaign is ready to roll, George’s big gift will get it off to a roaring start.
That kind of thinking is good for everyone.
Is this approach a sleight of hand?
Not at all.
It’s just smart donor relations and sound campaign policies.