Welcome to the second in a seven-part series about capital campaign basics. Click here to start the series from the beginning.
- Capital Campaign Basics: 7 Steps to Success
- Step 1: Clarify Your Fundraising Goals
- Step 2: Write Clear, Effective Campaign Material
- Step 3: Develop a Gift Range Chart
- Step 4: Make a List of Prospects by Giving Level
- Step 5: Contact Your Best Prospects
- Step 6: Ask for Gifts in Person Using Gift Range Chart
- Step 7: Follow Up with Every Donor
Have you clarified your campaign goal? Have you decided what you are raising the money for? Take a look at last week’s post if you haven’t done that yet. Today’s post is the second in a seven-part series about capital campaign basics.
But if you have, you’re ready to write up some material that you can share with donors to give them what they need to know about your project.
The task here is to be clear and compelling and there’s stuff to know about both of those. The simpler and clearer the writing, the better … and the harder it is to do! But on top of that, your communication with your donors should be compelling.
What It Takes To Be Compelling
To be compelling, your written material has to talk about what your campaign is going to accomplish—not in the sense of fulfilling your needs— but in the larger sense of making the world a better place!
I know you need money. Your donors know you need the money. But your financial needs are not the heart of your case.
Writing Your Case for Support
Your case for support is the basis for your campaign communications. Learn precisely how to “make the case” for your campaign, clearly spelling why your project is important, what you’re going to do and how you’re going to do it.
For effective materials, you must put your needs into a larger context that answers this question.
If I give you money, how will you spend it and what difference will it make in the world?
Effective campaign materials are not about your needs. They are about what my money will make happen.
Start Writing for Clarity and Simplicity
My young friend Margaret who inspired this series, worked very hard on writing a description of her project.
Here are three things we worked on to make Margaret’s material effective.
1. Content and Voice: We created a simple outline of the basics. They included project description, reviews and testimonials, bio of Margaret, collaborating artists, budget, and timetable.
Then Margaret wrote a brief statement for each section. She used the third person so that the document would be professional, but with the understanding that when Margaret sent it to people she would include personal cover letters or emails.
2. Appearance and Layout: She formatted the document with headings and images related to the project. And she used a type size and style that are easy to read even for her older donors. Margaret’s material was not made into a printed brochure. Rather she kept it fluid so she could update it as the details of the project took shape.
3. Cover Emails and Letters: The idea was that this document would never go out on its own, without a cover from Margaret. That way she could keep the document very clear and factual but could add the material that would make it compelling. Each cover note was individualized for the specific donor she was sending or taking it to. Each highlighted the aspect of the project she thought they would most enjoy.
The Ideal Capital Campaign Materials
In an ideal world, all campaigns would be like Margaret’s. You would know every donor and be able to accurately determine their interests. You would be able to individualize every written communication to address those interests. You would write simply and clearly and add compelling notes to every donor that highlighted the aspect of the project that would pique their interest.
In Margaret’s case, some donors simply wanted to support her. Others were interested in the music. Still others felt passionately about her anti-war subject. So, by having simple, basic materials that she could individualize for every donor, she was able to focus each approach to match her donor’s interests.
Don’t think fancy brochure. Think instead of clear, simple writing that sets about what you are going to raise the money for and why it matters to a specific donor.
Don’t Write Anything Without First Reading Jeff Brooks’ Book
Before you sit down to write anything, however, I encourage you read The Fundraiser’s Guide to Irresistible Communications by Jeff Brooks.
Although this book is not specifically about capital campaign communications, in it Jeff spells out many of the strategies you’ll need for writing effective materials. And he does so in a using the lessons he espouses! I enjoyed it. I’m quite sure you will too.
This is the second in a seven-part series of capital campaign basics. Click here to start the series from the beginning.
Ready to move on to the next step? See Step Three: Develop a Gift Range Chart