When should you start working on a capital campaign?
Here’s a typical question:
We’re in the midst of a strategic planning process and we plan to launch a campaign to help fund some of the initiatives that emerge from the plan. When should we start our campaign relative to the strategic planning process?
You probably should ALREADY be working on your campaign!
Involve Prospective Donors in Your Campaign Planning
There’s no better way to engage prospective donors than by involving them in your planning, even if your ideas are not fully formed and a bit up in the air.
Many nonprofit leaders think the opposite. They want to have the new plan completely thought out and finished up. And only then are they comfortable engaging leadership donors in conversations about the plan.
But engaging your donors in the planning process itself is vital.
- You want to get their curiosity up.
- You want to let them have some fun brainstorming with you about the right way to go.
- You want to get their buy-in early.
Don’t forget that this early process of thinking through your organization’s exciting future is a unique opportunity to engage your donors. It’s a magic time for you.
Look at it this way: strategy conversations are almost always fun and exciting. You are living in a place of possibilities — considering new paths to take. What better time to be sharing your ideas with your donors!
Get Your Foot in the Door with Donors
Best of all, it’s so easy to get in the door with prospective donors during the planning phase. Why? Because you are not asking for anything but their advice and best ideas. You’re honoring your donors by asking them to help you think through your plans.
So, if you’re doing it right, you’ll be in campaign mode while you are working on your strategic plan.
3 Things You Should Do While Planning Your Campaign
Here are three things you should be doing.
- Make a list of the 25 people whose commitments will be critical to the success of your campaign.
- Brainstorm the various ways you might involve them in your planning. Consider inviting them to participate in a planning meeting, or review a draft of the plan, or be part of a focus group, or simply give you advice and information about the community. Think of as many real involvement opportunities as you can.
- Next, develop a plan for involving those top 25 folks. You don’t want the ask to be the first thing they learn about your project. You want them to be a real part of your planning process!
Then, when you’re ready to “start” working on your campaign, you’ll find that the players you need to make your campaign a success are your partners, not just your deep pockets!