Wednesday, October 9, 2013

The Big "C"

In a few weeks I'm headed to be a part of a team faculty for a conference on the modern fundraising campaign in higher ed. And next month's DRG November webinar is about donor relations in a campaign. It seems like the "C" word is everywhere all the time. For many of us in regards to a comprehensive campaign, we're either in one, around one or on one. The business of fundraising always seems like the business of campaigns. I'm not sure they're always necessary, but our boards and leaders seem to love them.

So how many of you are around a campaign and what phase are you in? Do you have a comprehensive campaign plan for donor relations? If not, how do you plan on effective implementation? So many times I receive calls from folks who say to me, we're wrapping up a campaign, and now we need stewardship, what do we do? Unfortunately, backpedaling and being campaign reactionary is often unsuccessful and appears haphazard. It also places a heavy burden on donor relations.

The best way to move through a campaign with donor relations is side by side with your feasibility study, campaign counsel, and in partnership with your leadership. You need to be there in the beginning so that you are consistently placing strategic donor relations at the center of every activity from launch to closing. Again, it's about putting yourself in the conversations and showing the value of donor relations. Often times, consultants and leadership are too focused on the pursuit of major gifts and don't always have the perspective of the other parts of the giving cycle because they are keenly focused on reaching the goal. It's not just about reaching the goal, it's about what do we do to reward those who got us there and how do we think about the folks for the next campaign and preparing them to feel amazing  about their philanthropy.

Part of our role is to share the attitude of gratitude with others, from volunteers to constituents to leadership. It starts with you. It starts with small steps that lead to hugs success. So here are some tangible action items. Perform an audit of your activities. Are they all best practices and benchmarked with peer organizations? Are all of your funds organized, properly spent and stewarded? Is your acknowledgment process efficient  and sensible? If those foundational bedrocks aren't in place, how can you do other things?

Let me know where you are in the campaign process and how I can help. Don't forget about our donor guru linked in group, a great resource for advice and questions. And hopefully, I'll see you soon on a webinar or in person!

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