When is the right time for a fundraising campaign?

The development committee of your board is like the fire department. They should always be ready to fundraise. They should be planning for the next campaign, cultivating new donors, and understanding the philanthropic landscape. When the time to actively fundraise arrives they “spring into action.”

When is the right time for a fundraising campaign?It is always the right time for a campaign if your organization has done its planning, built its capacity, has volunteer leadership in place, and understands the philanthropic landscape.

That is a lot of work.

No organization can do it all at once and simultaneously continue operations. This is ongoing work, it takes place step-by-step, day-by-day. It is part of who you are as a nonprofit, large or small. Yes, you need to focus on your mission, vision, people, and constituency. At the same time you have to assess, develop, strengthen, and revise your fundraising strategies and actions.

An organization with strong leadership and a culture of fundraising is always in campaign planning and readiness mode. These are rooted in the organization’s strategic plan and the leadership’s vision and goals. When you (collectively) understand where you want your organization to be three or five years from now you have to get to work getting ready. You need to do that now, long before you ask anyone for money.

Here is a partial list of the types of activities and characteristics that comprise campaign readiness. Leadership, capacity and infrastructure (especially a development or fundraising committee of the board and staff), data management, awareness and communication, and donor research and cultivation all create a campaign foundation. These need to be supplemented with an understanding of the philanthropic landscape, a strategic plan that drives the work of the organization, a feasibility study, campaign plan, and a pool of prospective donors. Your track record of successful annual fundraising is a launch pad. Most importantly “will” and complete buy-in from across the organization round out campaign readiness. 

Developing and sustaining campaign readiness is an ongoing responsibility. The executive director is responsible for sustaining the capabilities of staff; the development committee of the board is charged with readiness at the highest level. The whole purpose of your development committee can be likened to that of a fire department. The committee is always poised and preparing for the next campaign, whether it is a major gifts campaign, annual campaign or capital campaign. The type of campaign doesn’t matter: the development committee is always fundraising or getting ready to fundraise.

Successful organizations end one campaign and immediately go into the next. The “public” doesn’t always know that, but those within the organization do. Remember, the majority of fundraising is preparation and takes place during the “silent” phase of a campaign. Moving from one campaign to the next allows an organization to take advantage of the skill set and the leadership developed during one campaign and to use it to prepare for the next.

Planning and readiness inform fundraising. Know your mission, donors, and the philanthropic landscape and you will know when to launch your campaign.


Copyright 2018 – Mel and Pearl Shaw

Mel and Pearl Shaw believe in planning. Let us help you plan for your fundraising campaign. Learn more at www.saadandshaw.com.

Image courtesy of 123RF.com.

This week on FUNdraising Good Times....