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We were helping one of our clients work through a challenge yesterday.

Our client, a national organization, is planning a $300 million capital campaign. The problem is, the organization’s board is not composed of “heavy hitters” so to speak, who hold power and influence.

The organization has a lot going for it. Its mission is solid and its impact is proven. But its leadership doesn’t have the connections they need to raise hundreds of millions.

Our recommended solution: we are guiding them through a deliberate networking process to bring in individuals who have power, connections and influence with funders.

Do You Have Enough People of Power and Influence Standing Behind Your Institution?

Every successful capital campaign needs powerful individuals who add credibility to the campaign. Their most important function is to help open doors to important donors – which can significantly shorten the time it takes to close a major gift.

For example, some key individuals can make a phone call, and quickly give you an open door to an important funding source. Or you have may a specific need: with one email, a key leader can suddenly access the resources to make it happen.

What You Get: Instant Leverage

Early in the game, we advise our clients to identify significant leaders of influence in their sphere and pull them in closer. As we all know, one key, well-connected individual can often draw three powerful leaders in.

When they lend their authority and back your work, their own credibility increases the standing of your organization. It builds confidence in your mission.

It’s like they are giving their seal of approval to your initiative.  Again, they can help you dramatically shorten the time it takes to forge significant relationships with funding sources. You can raise serious money much faster.

What You Get: Shortened Timelines

When you have the benefit of the right door-opener, then you don’t have to painstakingly build a trusting relationship from scratch with a donor. Instead, your “key influencer” can help you move right into a Gift Conversation with the donor. This saves you and your team so very much time and effort.

They add a backdrop of visibility and prominence so that doors to donors will fling open early in the game. Key funders will say, sure, I’ve heard about this and I’m happy to discuss your project with you.

In two of our capital campaigns, we’ve helped our clients network their way to a former governor of their state. Imagine how helpful a former governor could be to a campaign – he or she can be a key influencer of many companies, foundations, families, and even government funding sources. It’s a win-win all around.

Planning a Capital Campaign? Stack the Deck with Power and Influence

This is one of our key campaign planning strategies that we incorporate in our campaign planning studies. Who are the leaders who can help your campaign the most?

We advise all our clients – early in the game – to set themselves up for success. Add the right well-connected, influential volunteer leaders as soon as possible. As we mentioned, they’ll  bolster the prominence and visibility of the pending campaign, and make things so much easier by offering access to major and lead donors.

The Right Timing Can Build Momentum

How, and in what order, do you enlist your key influencers? It’s important to understand the whole landscape and lay out a careful sequence of priority steps.

Who is the first person you can enlist? If you can get a certain individual on board now, then who will they attract? What relationships can they leverage?

This is why the early campaign ramp up activities are absolutely critical. The right sequence of key people joining, one by one, to back your project can create that magic campaign ingredient we call momentum.

For example:

One wonderful individual joins on, and they say “have you talked to this person?”

You say, “I barely know them.”

Then your key influencer says, “I can fix that.”

You just moved from game space one to game space five.

Building Your Board Prior to a Major Campaign

If you are even thinking about a capital campaign in the next few years, you need to immediately start building connections with potential board members of influence and standing in your community.

Your board will play a key role in the campaign.  While you are working to recruit top volunteer leaders for the campaign, your board can help create the confidence and momentum needed to help attract those special individuals.

For example, achieving 100% giving participation by the board early can send a strong message to potential leaders that your board and organization are committed to the success of the campaign.

One of our campaign clients did just this. When they went to recruit their campaign chair, they were able to use the board’s early campaign commitment to successfully recruit their desired campaign chair.

It’s never too early to stack your board with people who can not only make major campaign gifts, but also bring other donors with them.

Bottom Line: Who Do You Need to Add to Your Team to Increase Power and Influence?

Is it time for you to reestablish key relationships? Who are your former board members, key funders or supporters who might have drifted away?

Can you seek out advice visits early while your campaign is still an idea? Can you engage them early in campaign planning?

Remember, stacking your deck with people of power and influence can shorten your campaign timeline, help you secure lead gifts faster, and give your campaign prominence in your community. It’s a smart strategy.

With the positive economic environment right now, most capital campaigns are really taking off in 2021. We’re seeing some interesting new capital campaign trends among our clients’ capital campaigns, and wanted share them here.

As we’ve seen with many of our clients, your capital campaign can be a booming success with a few strategic efforts. Donors are feeling wealthy right now, and they are often ready to move forward and discuss how they can help. Take advantage of these capital campaign trends for 2021:

1. Taking Advantage of the Soaring Stock Market

Most donors make larger gifts when they see strong growth trends in the stock market. As we mentioned above, they “feel” wealthier.

Because the stock market has grown so much over the past few years, investors are enjoying record high stock appreciation and profits.

It’s a wonderful time to remind donors about the benefits of giving appreciated stock. Not only can donors avoid capital gains taxes, but they can also gain significant tax deductions from their charitable contributions.

For example, a donor purchased stocks for an average $100 per share, investing a total of $10,000. Ten years later, the stocks could now be worth $280/share. The donor’s original investment is now worth $28,000.

By making the gift of the fully appreciated stock, the donor avoids capital gains taxes and gets to help their favorite organization with a significant campaign gift.

Takeaway: Many donors have extensive paper profits from the high stock market. Don’t forget to gently inquire about giving with assets other than cash.

2. More Transparent Messaging

We are seeing a strong trend toward more specific, much more transparent communications with major donors. Organizations that are sharing their status openly and honestly with their donors are receiving more support.

All along, donors have shared that they dislike formal, lofty language from the organizations they support. All the acronyms and nonprofit-speak puts them off, and dampens their enthusiasm.

During the pandemic, nonprofits are talking about their work very differently. Our clients are being frank with their supporters. They’re sharing exactly what is going on financially, and what they really need. As a result, donors are responding generously.

Our Major Gift Coaching client, Historic Columbus worried about a serious drop in contributions last year just about this time. We suggested to the Executive Director that she choose 20 major donors, communicate often with them via email and share an update of how the organization was adapting.

A few months later, out of the blue, one of the donors suddenly gifted $40,000. The donor explained that he appreciated the Executive Director’s frequent communications, and the transparency she showed in being perfectly open about the numbers.

Capital campaign trend takeaway: When your financial situation shifts – or when you have a major opportunity like a capital campaign – it is more important than ever to be transparent with your donors.

3. More Straightforward Conversations with Donors

For over a year, fundraisers have not been able to meet and greet our donors. No more coffees, lunches, meetings, gatherings. All the schmoozing of major gift and capital campaign work evaporated as we shifted to shut down for the pandemic. All the “fluff” of major gift fundraising went down the drain.

As a result, we were forced into absolutely direct conversations with our donors. No more oblique dancing those awkward discovery and qualification questions.

Now, we are training our clients to move right along with their donors, to find out what they are interested in. Be ready to ask your donors, in a very straightforward manner:

“Could you see yourself becoming more involved with our work?”

“Would you like to know more about how you can help?

As a result, our clients are saving so much time by finding out quickly which donors are interested, and which ones are not.

Capital campaign trend takeaway: It’s easy to find your most passionate supporters by asking a few direct questions.

4. Donors are Ready to Discuss Their Gifts Early in the Campaign

In this environment where donors are feeling wealthy, and nonprofits are directly discussing their needs with donors, good things can happen quickly.

For example, our campaign clients are seeing extraordinary results with one simple question:

“Would this be a good time to discuss your support of our campaign?”

This polite question is usually easy to ask. For instance, one of our clients closed a $100,000 gift the first time she asked this question. The next time she asked it, she closed a $250,000 gift.

Note that both of these gifts came in without a formal campaign ask. We just coached her to look for the right signals, and then be ready to gently pose the question. Note: she was on the phone or zoom for both of these conversations – in a digital format.

Takeaway: You can close major campaign gifts by asking your donor about their timing. Many of your donors are more ready than you may think.

Bottom Line: Capital Campaign Trends for 2021

Remember, the fundraising outlook for 2021 and 2022 is very positive. Make sure you prepare and seize this ripe opportunity.

Take advantage of these new capital campaign trends. Be willing to be transparent, direct and straightforward with your donors. You’ll see terrific results.

Don’t forget, we are happy to arrange a free campaign strategy call if you are in the process of planning a capital campaign.

Momentum

The Magic of Capital Campaign Momentum

Many capital campaigns struggle to maintain momentum. 

Momentum is a magic quality that can speed things along in your campaign like an ocean wave. When there is positive energy and momentum, everything is working in your favor.

Your volunteer campaign leaders feel the spark.

They are in action, in touch with you and each other. They’re talking often with you and other volunteers – collaborating on strategy to nail major and mega gifts for your campaign.

Your board knows that things are going well.

This means they are supportive, encouraged, and positive. They show up for campaign events. They cheerlead the staff. They are willing to spend money on the campaign when they see gifts flowing in.

 Best of all, positive momentum attracts donors.

When gifts are coming in often, and there are celebrations everywhere, new donors get inspired. They feel the energy of a successful cause, and join the bandwagon.  Your campaign literally attracts donors. 

This week we are sharing three ways to encourage, manage and maintain that magic spark of momentum.  These are also our top three strategies we use to keep client campaigns moving forward vigorously. 

And if you are thinking about capital campaigns – be sure to check out our new 5-part course, today is the last day to buy!

How Do You Create and Maintain Momentum?

 It starts with you. 

Often, it’s up to the staff to provide inspiration. Your own personal energy is infectious. Your smile encourages others to smile. And more, your can-do attitude inspires everyone else to be positive. 

1. Focus on Positive Steps – No Negativity Allowed

If you are trying to change the world, you don’t get there by worrying about failure. 

You have to keep your eye on the horizon. Stay focused on your goal and the wonderful possibilities of your campaign. And remind everyone of the vision for the future. 

 Any group of people – a board, a campaign committee – can easily be swayed by a naysayer who speaks strongly and negatively. You need to put a stop to it immediately, if at all possible. 

2. Use Your Consultants

Consultants play a vital leadership role in a campaign. Once the board develops trust and confidence in us, then they will listen to an objective third party. 

In our experience, we have been able to dig campaigns out of a roadblock and move forward, solely by focusing on a few positive and achievable next steps. 

Also, we like to keep in close contact with our campaign clients. We are constantly on the phone or a zoom meeting with board leaders, key volunteers, and staff. It is important for a consultant to stay in touch, always willing to provide leadership and a careful guiding hand to keep the momentum going. 

Keep people focused on their “to-do” list. That is our strategy. What are positive steps they can take right now – this week and this month – to be sure the campaign is moving along?  

Consultants often are an experienced and objective guiding hand to help maintain capital campaign momentum. If you have a consultant to help your campaign reach its goal, be sure to use them (or us)!

 3. Make Sure Big Meetings are Well Organized and Encouraging

Campaign and board meetings can be pivotal to your momentum. They can either foster a lack of energy – or positive momentum. Good energy or a sour tone. We’ve all been there. 

One of our secrets is to hold fast-paced, high-energy campaign and board meetings. We intentionally prep our speakers, design the agenda, and set up positive news – these steps are surprisingly crucial to maintaining successful campaign momentum.

Yes, these steps take time. It takes time to coach presenters and engage with meeting participants in advance. And these steps may seem less important than other activities.

But this is truly what it takes to implement a successful gathering of key leaders. You don’t want to leave this to chance – too many things can go wrong. 

Bottom Line: Maintaining Your Capital Campaign Momentum  

It’s up to you. Momentum can make or break your campaign. So be positive, use your consultants for leadership and guidance, and always stage your big meetings carefully. 

Last Chance Today: More Secrets to Successful Capital Campaigns

This in-depth 5-part webinar series shows you how to adapt, change, and successfully execute your institution’s campaign – even during these uncertain, unfamiliar days. 

Today is the LAST DAY to gain these secrets and learn how to power your campaign ahead in 2021..

Time is running out!

If you are running a capital campaign, now or in the future, make sure to check out our powerful new course by clicking the link below. The course will go back into our vault at midnight tonight

Capital Campaigns in Times of Crisis: 5 Keys to Success – Access Now

If you’re planning a capital campaign, you are very likely evaluating your fundraising potential. 

How much can you raise? Who will be your major funding sources? Would a Capital Campaign Planning Committee help you raise more? 

 A few other important questions you’re probably pondering are: 

Who do you need to have involved? 

Who should be your volunteer leaders? 

Who can help open doors to gifts? 

What about your donor relationships?

  • How warm or cool are your relationships with key funders and donors? 
  • Do you have close relationships with the major donors you need in order to fund your campaign? 
  • How can you bring these major donors closer and start to re-engage them?   

What’s your situation? 

You might be with an educational institution that needs to develop closer relationships with potential lead donors with deep pockets. 

Or maybe you’re with a community organization with a big vision, but has lost touch with your major donors. 

Whatever type of organization, this plan is crucial to your success.

You’ll need to reconnect with major donors, community leaders and leading philanthropists to cultivate their interest in your upcoming initiative and run a successful capital campaign. 

Why a Capital Campaign Planning Committee is such a smart move

You need strong leadership volunteers if you want to be successful

We know from experience that many capital campaigns are won or lost based on their volunteer leadership. We find that if you have the right powerful people heading up your campaign, you are well on your way to success. 

So choose wisely.

 These key individuals help open doors and make connections. They can influence gifts, and command attention. Even more, when key donors “bless” your project, they add credibility to your campaign. 

Create the right Capital Campaign Planning Committee 

Try pulling together a group of the most powerful, wealthiest, wisest, and most influential volunteers and donors you can find. Ask them to review your plan, offer advice and help formulate your campaign. There’s no better way to draw someone in than to involve them in key strategic decisions along the way.

A planning committee gives you a wonderful chance to inform your key donors about your campaign. You gain the benefit of their advice and wisdom, and often their input is invaluable.

Inviting them to serve on this high-powered committee is a terrific way to cultivate them for their future campaign gifts. What’s more, these individuals always yield amazing new connections, relationships and assistance — from the people who matter.

If you’re you still looking for your campaign chair or co-chairs, ask a key donor to serve on the Capital Campaign Planning Committee. This provides an excellent opportunity to prepare someone for the job of campaign chair.

Why would these donors join your Capital Campaign Planning Committee? 

 Your ideal key leaders are busy people, with many commitments and interests. They may be somewhat interested in your campaign, but usually are not willing to make a long-term commitment as a campaign volunteer.

Asking them to be a part of your Capital Campaign Planning Committee is a unique opportunity to re-engage them with an invitation to help shape the campaign. When you ask them to serve on a short-term planning committee, they are more likely to say yes since it’s a shorter time commitment. 

We find that once these individuals are involved on the planning committee, they become much more interested and personally invested in your campaign’s success. 

After building their interest, they are more likely to say “yes” to the Campaign Steering Committee itself when the time comes. 

Involvement breeds investment

Throughout our time leading capital campaigns, we have found the planning committee to be a golden key to securing the involvement of heavy hitters and lead donors. 

We’re always surprised at how effective this simple strategy is. 

But it works.

There’s no better way to draw someone in than to involve them in key strategic decisions along the way.

Bottom Line: Build a Capital Campaign Planning Committee

Your Capital Campaign Planning Committee is an excellent strategic tool for engaging major philanthropists and donors early in your campaign. 

It’s not a question of if you need this committee. It’s a question of who you need on this committee.

Go forth and succeed! We are always in your corner.

 

As always, it is a pleasure to share our weekly news and insights with you. 

If you are planning a capital campaign, look out for our NEW course launching next week. We will focus on Capital Campaigns in Times of Crisis and will be sharing 5 keys to success in today’s uncertain world. 

Hope you have a wonderful and safe weekend.