One of our readers asked five questions pertaining to the public phase. These are important questions with broad appeal, so I thought I’d answer them for this week’s post. Here is her email and my answers to her questions.
For the last year, we have been working to raise $2M for a renovation project. In the fall, we are holding a large donor thank you and also kicking off the public our community phase to announce our great project and let people know how they can become involved.
I’m a newbie at this. I have some questions and I hope you can help.
Public Phase Kick-Off Event
At the community phase event, we will have donor tent and a community tent. What do I need to have happen in these arena’s respectively? I have a good idea — but there must be a checklist somewhere to help follow.
AK: Hmmm … I’m not sure about separating the donors from everyone else. The idea of a kick-off for the public phase of your campaign is to inspire those who haven’t yet given by highlighting the generosity of those who have, inspiring people about the excitement of what you are raising money for and creating a deadline!
You will want to have short speeches thanking the donors and announcing what’s left to raise and the timetable for that. You’ll want to tell people what’s next and how they can help. I suppose a pre-event or post-event just for donors is fine. But keep in mind the real purposes of a kick off!
If you can get one of your campaign chairs or largest donors to create a challenge for the final phase of the campaign, you’d announce that too.
Public Phase Strategy
During the public phase, which will probably last 6-8 months, what is essential to bring the last 30% home? Tips?
AK: I’d encourage you to keep the public phase as short as possible. The longer it drags out, the less energy your campaign will have. You and your volunteers will become weary and it will feel like a very long slog. I’d say that 6 months is a max.
Treat this public phase as though it were the campaign itself. Identify the top 30-50 donors — that is, those who have the largest capacity and strongest inclination. Then develop a plan to solicit those people personally first so you can make big progress early. Once you’ve raised more than half of the Public Phase goal, finish it up with a broad, crowd-sourced campaign.
You can even create a special gift range chart and depth chart for what’s left to raise and use that as your guide.
Public Phase Donor Levels
I wasn’t going to do donor levels in public phase since these will fall below our $5,000 giving level for large donors. Is that okay?
AK: I would use donor levels — even at the broad base. Perhaps the bottom level is $500, then $1,000, $2,500 and $5,000. Or something like that. Give the levels great names and include those donors by giving levels on a group plaque in the lobby of the new facility.
Brick and Tile Campaigns
What about brick campaigns? Your thoughts?
AK: Brick and tile campaigns work. Donors like them. But they are a pain in the neck and you have to be sure that you don’t spend more money in time and materials than you bring in. These campaigns also take a great deal of detailed work and it’s got to be right — name spelling, etc. I believe that they are usually more trouble than they are worth. But many people don’t agree with me.
If a tile or brick campaign accomplishes something else important, like making a statement of community involvement, then it may be worthwhile despite the challenges, effort and time.
Public Phase Volunteer Support
What am I missing?
AK: You haven’t asked about volunteer involvement in the broad base phase of the campaign. And that’s where it’s super-important.
Whether you have a social media team or a broader solicitation team or a cheer-leading/pr team for the campaign … THIS is when you need volunteers … lots of them! This is the broad base of your campaign and you need as many people working on it as you can muster.
Finally, remember that one of the important reasons to do a public campaign at all is that it seeds your future fundraising. In getting the word out and inspiring people to give at every level, you are creating new relationships and strengthening old ones with people who are likely to keep right on giving after the campaign is done and successful.
Get Your Campaign Questions Answered
Do you have any questions about your capital campaign?
If we think your question has broad appeal, we may post a response. If it’s more specific to your project, we’ll email you our thoughts.