Capital Campaigns are not for the faint of heart. However, anyone who completes a campaign will tell you they are well worth the stress and aggravation. In other words, the pros outweigh the cons.
Of course, you know a campaign will be worth it because you’ll raise lots of money. But at least as important are the non-financial gains a campaign will generate.
Capital Campaigns As Capacity-Expanders
Campaigns are worth the hassle because by the end, you should have substantially expanded the capacity of your organization.
I’m not simply talking about having a new building and new programs. (Some campaigns include physical space and others don’t.) I’m talking about other kinds of capacity.
By the time you finish your campaign, you should end up with:
- Staff members who really understand major gift fundraising
- Donors who are more committed than ever
- Improved and increased programs and services
- Staff and systems that will help you boost your fundraising revenue long after the campaign
Only a capital campaign can accomplish all these things in a relatively short amount of time. The pressure is intense and the rewards are great, so change is more likely than in normal times. But the very things that make campaigns amazing also lead to challenges.
Campaign Obstacles: Prepare for Bumps in the Road
Your campaign will likely hit some bumps in the road. Some potential campaign obstacles include things like:
- Rising construction costs
- Changing economy
- Construction delays
- Staff turnover
- Unforeseen issues
Some obstacles, like staff turnover, you can anticipate and prepare for. Here are three ways you might plan for it.
- You can discuss the campaign with key development staff members and provide additional support so they will be less likely to leave.
- You can make sure your team is strong going into the campaign.
- You can be ready with succession plans should a key team member leave.
But many challenges are difficult to prepare for in advance.
Capital Campaigns Take Grit
Here’s an old expression that rings true for campaigns:
What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.
They take determination and stick-to-itiveness. Often taking three years, campaigns take staying power and proper planning. They are not something you can do on the fly.
A big exciting vision for your organization that can be achieved through your campaign will help see you through tough times. Campaigns are springboards that boost your organization forward. That vision excites donors to give big gifts. And there’s nothing quite like really big gifts to inspire you and your team.
Capital Campaigns Take Wit
When it comes to “wit” with regards to capital campaigns, we’re referring to positivity and levity. Campaigns go better when you have a good attitude, hands down.
Surround yourself with positive people who are enthusiastic and constructive.
Mindset is half the battle of a campaign. If you believe you can raise the money, your actions and your words will reflect your enthusiasm and commitment. When you meet with donors your enthusiasm will be contagious and will increase the likelihood that they will give generously.
Conversely, if you let your doubts undermine your enthusiasm, your visits with donors may feel desperate and you may even stop meeting with them because you’re worried they will say no.
Your anxiety may start a vicious downward cycle. Your lack of confidence can lead your donors to question the potential of success. That will depress their giving which in turn will further depress you!
Of course, laughter and optimism are the best medicine in campaigns, and in life.
6 Positivity Hacks for Your Capital Campaign
Here are six simple things you can do to imbue your campaign with the positivity that will lead to success.
1. Start the day with positivity.
Pull your team together for a quick, high-energy affirmation.
2. Create a celebration system.
Celebrate every victory — little ones and big ones. Consider creating a little celebration dance specifically for your campaign. Got a gift? Dance! Campaign Chair agreed to serve? Dance! Arranged a meeting with a major donor? Dance!
3. Keep your vision top of mind.
Remind yourself and your team of the vision for the campaign — not just once, but again and again.
4. Track and share.
Track your success and spread the good news around. Nothing encourages hope and enthusiasm more than seeing progress. Make sure you are tracking and reporting on it.
5. Go overboard with appreciation.
When you notice that someone did something good with respect to the campaign, call them out for it and thank them with sincerity.
6. Model integrity.
When things go wrong, be willing to talk about them. Develop a culture of being straightforward and clear. See things that go wrong, such as gifts that are disappointing, merely as steps to things that will go right.
Your mindset and the mindset of your team will go a long way toward carrying your campaign to success. Use both grit and wit to guide you through your campaign processes, and you simply can’t go wrong.