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As you plan and launch your capital campaign, there are a number of reasons you should involve lots of people from your organization in the process.

One of our expert advisors, Richard Quinn, has written a guest post outlining six ways to involve key stakeholders in your campaign. He makes a strong case for the importance of doing that and gives you practical suggestions about how to involve them.


Don’t Silo Your Capital Campaign: 6 Ways to Engage Key Stakeholders

By Richard Quinn

Capital Campaigns are exciting!

They are opportunities to dream big, to stretch toward something beyond what your organization currently does, and to invite others to join you in the quest.

The responsibility for carrying out a capital campaign often falls mainly to those in the Development Office in partnership with executive leadership and a *set of volunteers hand-picked because of their vision, connections, generosity, and stick-to-it-iveness.

Here’s the thing though. The group described above cannot (and should not) do it alone. Your entire organization should be involved in the capital campaign.

However you define your key internal stakeholders — your PR team, your marketing team, your program team, your finance team, the people you provide services to…the list goes on — it is imperative that you invite everyone into the capital campaign process as often as you can.

Why?

Because a campaign affects your entire organization. So you’ll want to engage as many key stakeholders as you can.

6 Ways to Engage Key Stakeholders in Your Campaign

Not only will many staff members be called upon to help during the campaign itself, but the success of your campaign will have important consequences in the way your organization operates in the future.

With that in mind, here are six ways to engage your key stakeholders throughout your capital campaign.

1. Invite the People You Serve to Provide Insight Into Your Planning.

A wise soul once said to me, “Don’t focus on the needs you have. Focus on the needs you meet.” Conduct focus groups with members of the communities you serve early in your campaign.

The needs of the people you serve often change over time. The people you serve can offer critical and timely perspective that will help you shape your campaign objectives. It is critical to be sure that you are meeting the needs of the moment, not the needs of the past.

2. Engage Program Staff to Share Insights About Their Work.

Make sure your program staff are at the table during the planning process that leads to the campaign. Be sure they understand what the campaign is raising money to accomplish.

Then, invite them to speak about their work at campaign committee meetings. Ask them to share the challenges they face, and how the new building, for example, will alleviate them. The more your program staff members understand the campaign objectives, the more they will be the partners that they truly are.

3. Engage the Marketing Team in the Development of Campaign Materials.

The donor discussion guide is an essential tool for engaging donors. It’s a document that your prospect can read in a minute or two and get a quick picture of the why, how, and what of your capital campaign.

Get your marketing team to help you design and write your donor discussion guide. That’s what they’re good at. They understand the subtle but important interplay between words and images.

Believe me, you will have a better product if you involve your marketing team in the creation of your campaign materials.

4. Ask Your Public Relations Team to Develop Campaign Communication Strategies.

Campaigns roll out in phases:

  • the planning phase
  • the feasibility study phase
  • the quiet phase
  • the public phase
  • the post-campaign phase

Each phase has a different “public” to appeal to.

Your public relations team can help you lay out the communications plan so that the messages you share are targeted most effectively to the audiences you are speaking with at that particular time.

So get their help developing your campaign PR plan and roll-out. You’ll be glad you did.

5. Involve Your Finance Team in Planning the Campaign’s Accounting and Reconciliation Systems.

Make your finance team a partner in campaign success. Remember, development and finance are (or should be) joined at the hip as you raise funds for operating revenue. They also should work with you as you fundraise towards your campaign goal.

Your finance team can be the sounding board that holds you accountable during the monthly reconciliation of the books. They’ll ensure that campaign and operating gifts are properly coded and recognized, and not inadvertently comingled.

6. A Final Tip to Department Heads.

One more thing to keep in mind…

Campaigns are exciting to some, but scary to others. Never forget that change is hard. You should do everything you can to prepare your board and staff for it.

The more involved your staff members are in the campaign, the more prepared they will be to embrace the goals that the campaign is designed to help your organization achieve. The more your staff members feel a part of the campaign, the less uneasy they may feel about an uncertain future.

How Have You Involved Your Staff in Your Campaign?

Please feel free to recommend other ways to involve your entire organization in your campaign in the comments section below.

Richard QuinnRichard Quinn has provided capital campaign, major gifts, and institutional relations counsel to nonprofit clients since 2008. Prior to being a consultant, Richard worked on several multi-million-dollar capital and endowment campaigns, including The Field Museum in Chicago, IL, The Hill School in Pottstown, PA, and The Philadelphia Orchestra. Richard has special skills in serving in interim positions for organizations who lose their key development staff members mid-campaign.

6 Comments

  1. Brittany

    Great article! I think it’s important to get input from as many people as possible for all fundraising! It helps so much to keep things connected to the mission of the organization when we’re not stuck in our individual silos.

    Reply
  2. Cynthia Herrera

    Love this! Really great actionable items to take up that will surely make a big difference. Thank you!

    Reply
  3. Georgette Hamaty

    Rich, this is very sound advice indeed. Thank you for sharing these specific tips for success. Stakeholder communication and involvement are key. Some of the staff may even be involved in donor cultivation. This could also be applied to making sure staff understands annual fundraising too (and how that money aids the organization).

    Reply
  4. Val Gay

    Thanks for this insightful piece! There are nuggets throughout that can be used for both campaign and general fundraising! Wishing I had this article a few years ago- would have probably made less mistakes!

    Reply
  5. Kelli Paul

    This is great. Very practical and insightful and reflective of the growing (and necessary trends) to make sure that our work is not siloed. It is critical that the voices of the people we serve are heard at every juncture to ensure authenticity and equity. Thanks for sharing these useful article.

    Reply
  6. Quinn Bauriedel

    This could not be more apt and relevant. A campaign should involve everyone. Having buy in from all stakeholders – internal and external – is crucial to build the necessary steps toward success. I’ve seen Richard in action and he not only writes eloquently about it, but makes it happen with clients.

    Reply

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