Over the past few years, I’ve been in touch with hundreds of people who have filled out our application for free strategy sessions with a true expert to talk about their plans for a capital campaign. (If you are interested, learn more at the bottom of this post.)
I’ve spoken with lots of these people and wind up working with a good many of them. And just by watching the application process carefully, I think I can pretty accurately predict their success or failure.
7 Predicting Traits for Capital Campaign Success
Through experience, I’ve determined seven simple predictors of which folks are most likely to succeed with a capital campaign.
Here are the seven things I look for:
- People who respond promptly
- People who schedule meetings efficiently
- People who think clearly and write crisply
- People who show up on a call when they say they will
- People who make up their minds
- People who ask good questions
- People who aren’t easily discouraged or cowed
To give you an idea of how these qualities can predict success, here are two examples from opposite ends of the spectrum.
She’s been flirting with the idea of pre-campaign coaching for at least 6 months now. And the more I speak with her, the more I’m convinced that she badly needs it. She works in an organization that doesn’t have a strong culture of philanthropy yet but her boss, the ED, is hot-to-trot on a capital campaign.
She first got in touch back in February. We set up a call with her in early March. Looking back at the correspondence, I should have seen the signs. When I sent her two alternative dates for our first call. Her return email said, “Neither of those dates work for me.”
Uh oh. The problem isn’t that the dates didn’t work, but that she didn’t offer dates that did. So I had to start again in a guessing game. Poor practice. And it’s an indicator that Judy wouldn’t be an ideal client.
Over the next seven months, we had 28 emails and four calls with Judy. She has told us not once, but several times that the signed contract and check are in progress. But nothing.
Now Judy is an extreme example. Even if I were to get her paperwork and check, what do you think the chances of her running a successful campaign? Not great, I’m afraid.
Because Judy’s patterns are well … Judy’s patterns. And those aren’t the patterns that work in fundraising.
Now let me tell you about Peggy…
Peggy is the ED of an organization that’s itching to build two new facilities. They have little experience with major gift fundraising and by all traditional indicators, they aren’t anywhere near campaign-ready.
But Peggy — by her get-it-done behavior — has convinced me that pretty much anything Peggy takes on will turn out right.
We scheduled a call. We had our call. I sent a proposal. She jumped at it. And by return email I had a signed copy of the contract. A check arrived shortly thereafter and we were set to go.
Did Peggy have the money sitting aside for our contract? No.
What did she do? She went and asked someone for it … and they said yes.
Now, in my view, Peggy is someone who has a good chance of being successful no matter how stacked the odds seem against her. And through our coaching program, I’m excited to help.
How Do These Qualities Apply to You?
So why should Judy and Peggy and their experiences matter to you?
For two reasons…
1. You have a choice.
You really do. You can choose to be more like Peggy than like Judy. And if you do, your life will go better. You’ll be on the front end, generating results and having a ball doing it rather than pretending and then avoiding.
2. People are consistent.
If you’re in campaign mode, chances are, you’re going to be hiring people. When you do, look carefully at how the candidates respond from the very beginning. Remember that the patterns you see up front are not a likely to change. Notice how the candidates do the simple things and if they’re not the way you expect them to be, then look farther.
An Open Invitation to You
If your organization is planning a capital campaign and you’re the kind of person who gets things done with a minimum of fuss and a maximum of passion and effectiveness, then I invite you to apply for a free strategy session with me!
You’ll tell me about your campaign plans. I’ll give you my thoughts on your situation. And if it seems that our pre-campaign planning coaching will be helpful to you, I’ll tell you about it. If not, I won’t.
At the very minimum, I can promise that you will get advice and input from an expert. Apply now »