We spend lots of time — hours and hours — coaching people about their capital campaign plans. We’ve spoken with hundreds of people representing organizations of all sizes and shapes.
And again and again, people tell us that their organization has a big anniversary coming up — 10 years, 25 years, even 50 years — and they want to plan a capital campaign around it.
Recently, the executive director of a small social service organization came to us with this question.
Our organization is going to turn 50 in 2018 and my board wants to use that as a springboard for a capital campaign to raise $5,000,000. Can you help us figure out the best approach?
“What,” I asked, “would you spend $5,000,000 on if you were to raise it?”
There was a pause in the conversation and I knew right then that her board hadn’t thought carefully about that. They just figured that 50 years and $5 million sounded good together.
Now, celebrations ARE important!
The fact that your organization is still alive and well after decades may be just short of miraculous. But really, anniversaries and capital campaigns don’t naturally go together — or at least not in the way you might think.
Two Key Facts About Anniversary Capital Campaigns
Remember these two very important facts about “anniversary” campaigns:
- No one much cares that your organization is XX years old, except perhaps the founders and your board.
- What donors DO care about is the impact you make — not the number of years you’ve been in existence.
Donors care about the fact that with their help, your organization makes a big difference in your community.
So, while you may want to organize a big birthday party for your organization, by itself, your organization’s anniversary doesn’t count for very much in terms of fundraising.
It is NOT necessarily the right time for a major fundraising campaign.
Tell your board members to focus on a big birthday party for your organization. And save the capital campaign till when you are ready!
Use Your Organization’s Birthday to Plan for the Future
Birthdays and capital campaigns do fit together in a nice specific way.
Birthdays are a great time to look back and see what you’ve accomplished, and look forward to set new, exciting goals for the next chunk of years. And the forward-looking part of that process — the long range planning — can serve as an excellent basis for a capital campaign.
Use your organization’s impending birthday as an opportunity to spark some exciting planning for the future. Then, launch a capital campaign to fund those plans.
And yes, if you start planning early enough, you might very well be able to announce or celebrate your campaign at the celebration of your organization’s birthday!
Are you planning a capital campaign? If so, we can help you get ready for MAJOR success — well before you need to hire a consultant.
To learn more about how we work with organizations to set them up for capital campaign success, just fill out this short form.
Our next pre-campaign coaching program starts in mid-January. Learn more and register now to reserve your spot.