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Season 2, Episode 13

Amy and Andrea discuss the importance of considering diversity, equity and inclusion into your planning process long before the start of your campaign. Then, they pivot to participant questions about campaign leadership – what qualities your chair should have, when to recruit them, and what to do if you can’t find the right person at the start of your campaign.

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This episode was recorded as part of a live webinar held Monday, November 8, 2021. To participate in future webinars, register at ToolkitTalks.com.

Amy Eisenstein:
We’ve got a good topic for you today. I am curious though, in the chat I saw go by Lucy said, we’re launching our capital campaign this week. So I want to give props and high fives, virtual high fives to Lucy. But I’m always curious when somebody says launching a campaign. I am curious, does that mean the quiet phase? Does that mean the public phase? Does that mean a feasibility study? And I’d like you all to answer in the chat.

What do you think of when you think of kicking off your campaign? We use it to mean the public phase, but launching a campaign there’s so many different phases and steps. I don’t know Andrea, how do you think about that? When somebody says they’re launching their campaign, what does that mean to you?

Andrea Kihlstedt:
Amy, I do exactly what you just did, which is to say, what do you mean by launching your campaign?

Amy Eisenstein:
Yeah.

On Launching a Capital Campaign

Andrea Kihlstedt:
Campaigns are so funny because we talk about kicking off the campaign when you’re like 80% of the way to the goalposts, it’s like a football game, and what do I know about football? Not a whole lot, but it’s like saying the game is about to begin when one team has the ball 80% of the way down the field. That’s what we do with campaigns. Laurie, you’re in the campaign planning process, fantastic, that’s always… Everything you do in the planning process for your campaign is what sets you up for success. So the more you can use the planning process of your campaign, and this is true for all of you, the more you can use that as a way of engaging people in the campaign process, the more successful your campaign is going to be out the other end.

And you have to take that really seriously. This is not just a matter of putting together a campaign plan and then executing, it’s a matter of using the planning process, both for your project and for your campaign itself, to engage people, some of whom will already be on your board, some of whom may not be, some of whom may be major donors to you already, some of them may be major donors in your community, but not so tightly involved. So the opportunity you have to engage people in a serious way and to set up those largest gifts is right now in this planning phase of your campaign. And once you get to the public phase like Heather and Christie and Gail, it’s pretty much all decided, you pretty much laid the groundwork for what’s going to happen there.

Amy Eisenstein:
Right. And not everybody does the phases in exactly the right order, sometimes we find, so if you’re in the public phase and you haven’t already raised 70% of your dollars, you may have jumped the gun a little, but… And we can talk about that, feel free to ask questions about that.
Kick us off.

Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) in Capital Campaigns

Andrea Kihlstedt:
Kick us off. So here’s the topic, just to give a little context, Amy and I are doing a lot of writing these days. We’re writing blog posts for many websites and just sharing information about capital campaigns, and we’re invited by many sites to write blog posts. And someone invited us recently to write a blog post about the topic that they framed as, how do you account for, or take care of issues of diversity, equity and inclusion, DEI in the public phase of your campaign? Right now on the surface of it, that’s a perfectly reasonable question. So I thought to myself, well, this is interesting, before I sit down and try to write any a cogent blog post about that, let me put that question out to a bunch of my friends who are particularly knowledgeable about issues of diversity, equity, and inclusion. I should say that Amy and I struggle with that, the capital campaign business is a business of lead gifts.

Most of the money you raise in your capital campaign will be raised from very large gifts. And honestly, most of those gifts come in from people who are not particularly diverse. So we wrestle with, how to make capital campaigns more diverse, more representative, more inclusive of the people who are served by the organizations of the campaigns. It is a lively question for us, but in this particular topic I put out there this question, what should I write about DEI in the public face of a campaign to a bunch of my colleagues and friends in the field? And I got back really remarkable responses, but the gist of the responses was this, they said – and these are all friends of mine, mind you – they said, you are asking the wrong question.

They said, you can’t all of a sudden in the public phase of your campaign turn around and say, now how do we be diverse and inclusive? It’s way too late. That you can’t add that onto your campaign at the tail end, and hold hope that you look okay, because then it is not honestly what this whole business of equity and inclusion is all about. And you better rethink the topic. That’s not quite the way they said it, but that’s what I got. I sent you those responses, Amy.

Amy Eisenstein:
Yes.

Andrea Kihlstedt:
I thought to myself, that’s exactly right. That’s really an interesting topic for us all to think about. And there’s nothing like starting out with the wrong question to find out why it’s the wrong question. And here’s what I’m thinking about, and I’d love your thoughts about this. I think that the real question for any organization, and particularly early in the planning phases of your campaign, we started talking about planning is, where does issues of diversity, equity and inclusion fit your organization? And if you really dig far enough, what it turns out is that, those need to be in your value statement. They need to be way up at the top in your value statement. And they need to play out in most everything you do.

You need to be asking that question of, how do we live out our values of diversity and equity and inclusion in everything we do, including the planning for our project, including the planning for our campaign, including what our campaign planning committee looks like, and who serves on that, including looking at the people we serve and saying, well, what role can they play from the very beginning of our campaign in helping us make this campaign be who we are as an institution. I thought to it… One more thing, and then I’ll stop.

One more idea about this is that, over the years and talking about fundraising, I have often thought that fundraising, to have a really good fundraising program is just the same way that to be a really effective fundraising organization, you need to be generous, you need to be inclusive, you need not just to be thinking about fundraising as an afterthought, you need to be thinking about engaging the people that you will be going to for gifts.

And in some ways, these are parallel enterprises of being inclusive and diverse, and having an organization, the values of which go along with really good fundraising, which is to value donors, to value the people who will be giving to your organization and to include them in some way, as much as you value the people who are benefiting from your services and including them in the life of your organization. So at some point in the next week, I’m going to try to write a blog post about this.

Amy Eisenstein:
Well, not only that in just a few weeks, we’re going to have a guest on Toolkit Talks, and that is Vu Le. Who’s one of the leaders and founders of the Community-Centric Fundraising Movement. So we are going to be talking about diversity, equity and inclusion with Vu who really is a leader in this area and can help guide the conversation and educate us all. So we’re super excited to have him in just a few weeks. All right. So we’ll continue the conversation. Let’s go to some questions. And if you have a question about campaigns, about fundraising, please go ahead and open the Q & A box and put it in now, this discussion is always richer when we have lots of questions to choose from.

Should You Postpone a Campaign if the ED Leaves?

Amy Eisenstein:
We’ve got some good ones to kick us off we’re not a… If the ED leaves during the capital campaign, should you postpone the campaign?

I’m going to start us off by saying, of course it depends. There’s a lot of factors and a lot of circumstances around which executive directors leave. And when you say postpone the campaign, I would ask, for how long? For a few weeks till you get some talking points in order? Till you hire a new ED? At what stage are you in of the campaign? What are the circumstances around the executive directors leaving? Were they fired? Did they retire with lots of notice? What’s the succession plan? Do you have an interim that’s been at the organization for a long time? I would say that there is lots of it depends to answer that question, but Andrea, I’m sure you have some specifics you want to add to that. Should you postpone a campaign when the executive director leaves?

Andrea Kihlstedt:
No, it’s interesting. It really is. It’s an interesting question. Yeah. As you said, it depends. I mean, it there’s a lot you need to know. If this executive director in a half or left in the middle of a scandal or something awful was happening, then you better slow down anyway and get it regroup. It depends on the timing of what it is you need to do. Here’s what I really say to that, I don’t know if you should postpone or not postpone, but you may find in the turnover that you have an opportunity to go and talk to your largest donors, and find out what they would do.

And when you have a question like that, when the answer is not at all clear to go back to the initial thought, which is that, a fundraising culture is one of being inclusive and open and curious, why not go to some of your key stakeholders and say, what do you think we should do? Here’s what we are, should we keep on? Or should we not keep on? You have a wonderful thing to ask people for advice about. That’s what I would say. And you sell them go wrong by asking for advice.

Amy Eisenstein:
Right. There really is no clear answer, because we don’t know if there are shovels in the ground, where you are in your campaign. So a lot depend, but I think Andrea is exactly right. The way to figure out the answer is to go to some of your biggest and most loyal donors and faithful volunteers and get their feedback and advice. That’s exactly right.

Andrea Kihlstedt:
I’m reminded of a wonderful old phrase that goes something like, the answer is always embedded in the question.

Amy Eisenstein:
Yeah. I mean, the reality is that, when an executive director leaves, especially if it’s not surrounded by scandal, the organization will continue, the need continues, the clients are still there, the board members are still there, hopefully the rest of the staff for the most part are still there. So if the organization is somewhat stable, even when the executive director turns, if the need for the campaign is still there and there’s confidence among the donors, that the organization will be able to carry out the plan because there are other leaders that have been there a long time, I don’t know why you would pause.

Andrea Kihlstedt:
Yeah. I think that’s the right word, Amy. What is the confidence in the organization’s ability to continue, and to follow through, and to be responsible. If the executive director leaves, the worry is that the organization is shaky and might not be able to be successful, and you can’t just go ahead. If the organization is a solid organization with a strong second in command, then you can probably just continue on, but you have to look the confidence, donors give when they feel confident that the project will be successful. That’s the right word, Amy, I think. What’s the confidence level.

Step-by-Step Campaign Planning Checklist

Amy Eisenstein:
Excellent. All right. Fay is asking, where do we find the planning step by step process? We were talking about step by step before. So if you go to the Capital Campaign Toolkit website, just capitalcampaigntoolkit.com, right on the homepage, you will be able to download a planning step-by-step process for a capital campaign. And I actually am writing about it for tomorrow’s blog posts, so sign up to make sure that you’re reading our blogs every week. But you can download our whole step by step planning guide right on the homepage of the Capital Campaign Toolkit website. Okay.

Letter of Interest vs. Case For Support

Andrea Kihlstedt:
So Haley has asked a good question too, everybody is asking great questions today. Thank you so much for them. Haley says, what’s the difference between a letter of interest you might send to a foundation versus a case for support. And let me start that one off, which is that, I think a case for support, this is going to sound a little woo, but a case for support is not really a document at all. A case for support is a set of ideas that you can use in multiple ways on multiple forms and formats. A case for support is quite literally the case for supporting your project. That’s what that phrase comes from, the case for a donor to support your project. It’s a set of ideas organized in a way that becomes compelling.

Now, you can take those ideas and you can talk them, you can write them, you can have a slide deck for them, or you can develop them into a letter of interest you might send to a foundation to get back to your question, Haley. The case for support is really understanding what you’re doing and why it matters well enough to be able to adapt it to all of the communications needs you’re going to have, and have a consistent way of talking about what your campaign is. So you need the case for support as a starter, and then you can use it for what you send as a letter of interest of inquiry to your foundation.

Amy Eisenstein:
Excellent. So Lisa is responding to our earlier conversation about, when the CEO leaves, and I think a lot of people deal with this. She writes, when the organization where I worked fired at CEO, we weren’t in a campaign, but we couldn’t generate any big gifts, because I couldn’t answer the question, who’s in charge, questions from prospects. I think that, it depends on the circumstance of your organization like I said. Often the interim CEO is somebody… The head of programming or the assistant VP, or whatever it is. If they’ve been there for a while, you can say, you know what? Somebody is in charge, and they’ve been with the organization for five or 10 years, and we’ve got a process going, and we may hire internally, we may hire externally, and we’ve got a good succession plan and the board is on it.

I think there can be a good answer when an executive director is fired, things may get a little Rocky for a few months, but hopefully… Take this as a word to the wise, everybody should have a good succession plan. What happens if the executive director gets hit by a bus tomorrow, who’s in charge? What’s the process for replacing them? Do you have a written job description? Do you know where you’ll post it? Or who you’ll use to help find the new person? Who on the board is responsible for interviewing or reviewing? Anyways, lots to think about there.

Andrea Kihlstedt:
Rick has asked about Vu Le, and he may not be the only person who is not familiar with Vu Le’s work, but vole has started something called Community-Centric Fundraising. But before that, he has been an active blogger, particularly in topics of diversity, equity and inclusion, and calling out the nonprofit world, the foundation world in particular, but other parts of this world as well, for practices that he does not approve of or believe in. He writes incredibly well and is always provocative and has quite a following. And so it’s worth looking him up. It’s Vu Le, V-U L-E. Take a look at his work, sign up for his email list. Is worth reading, he always says things that’ll at least have you scratching your head.

Amy Eisenstein:
Chatted in, I think his blog is called Nonprofit AF, and it’s a word that I shouldn’t say on Toolkit Talk.

Andrea Kihlstedt:
Okay.

How to Use a Campaign to Increase Your Donor Base

Amy Eisenstein:
But anyways, everybody knows what AF means. Okay. All right. Let’s go to Heidi’s question, how can a capital campaign be used to increase an organization’s donor base? Heidi, it’s a good question. And I think there’s several opportunities to increase a donor base. First and foremost, along with the campaign comes visibility, comes clarity, comes more systems and infrastructure and more outreach. So I think that the donor base probably naturally to some degree widens depending on what phase you’re in, you are promoting your organization, your effort to the community. It’s different in different phases of the campaign, and feasibility study phase, you might be talking to three or five community leaders who hadn’t been donors before, but who might be influential, who might become donors, friends of theirs might potentially become donors because of what you’re doing.

From a campaign, in the quiet phase, you might get a few new donors, but that’s not the base for support. You would be reaching out to a few key people that you might attract as new donors, but I don’t want anybody on the call to think that a campaign is all about new donors. It’s not, it’s about your existing donors. That being said, there are some opportunities, including in the public phase where you would be doing more publicity, more outreach, more branding work than you do in a normal year. You’re doing an exciting project, there might even be a sign up on a building construction site, so people driving by might recognize that you are growing. So I think that there are opportunities to increase the organization’s donor base. You might be doing more press releases, those types of things. Andrea, you want to be more specific than that? That was a little rumbly.

Andrea Kihlstedt:
I think you covered the bases, and the places that I get most excited about when I think about how a campaign broadens an organization’s donor base is not the broad part, but the narrow part, which is that, as talk to your largest donors, you’re always asking them who else you should be talking to. And they put you in touch with other large donors. So it may only be that you bring on another 10 or 20 people, but if they’re lead gift potential donors that can make a significant difference to the life of your organization. And you find them from the people who are already your largest donors and getting them to provide the introduction. Because of course, once someone has committed to making a large gift to your campaign, they want other people to make large gifts. It’s human nature, not to want to be out there by yourself. So they’re in an excellent position. They’re just motivated at that moment. They’re motivated to introduce you to other people who will be willing to help at a significant level. And that I think is some of the magic of campaigns, because that happens.

Handling Super-Negative People During a Campaign

Amy Eisenstein:
All right. Melanie, I’m going to keep my answer to your questions short, because I think it’s fairly specific and I’m going to invite you to come onto the Capital Campaign Toolkit website and sign up for a strategy session. And we’d be happy to talk with you in detail about your question, but my short answer, the question is, any suggestions I’m dealing with a public official with a lot of influence who is consistent negative, super negative, and putting up obstacles to success. I hope most people aren’t dealing with that, but my short answer, for anybody that is putting up obstacles or being negative about your campaign, whether it’s a board member or an elected official or anybody else in the community, would be to go sit down with them, to try and get a one-on-one meeting with them. And I don’t know if you’ve had this opportunity, and ask, what’s going on? What do they object to about the campaign?

What do they think you should be doing? What are their concerns? And get some of it out in the air, maybe they misunderstand the project, maybe they haven’t been fully informed, maybe they… Who knows what. And even if you can’t correct or come to an agreement, maybe just having the opportunity to talk it out and give them the respect of going down and sitting and having a conversation with this person, sometimes that diffuses some of the negativity, some of the hostility. You put a personal face on it, and when I say you, if it’s a public official or a board member or a lead, somebody in the community that’s badmouthing the project, have a peer of theirs go talk to them. It may not be you, if you are the development director, make sure it’s the executive director, someone influential on the board, make sure it’s someone that they would respect or has respect in the community.

I think I would just… And it’s not a judgmental meeting, it’s not a hostile meeting, it’s a question asking meeting, it’s a fact finding meeting. Say, you know what? You’ve been vocal about your resistance or objection to this project that we’re doing, tell me about that, what don’t you like about the project? Let’s talk it through. So really ask some questions, don’t try not to be combative. And I think that’s what I would say about it.

Andrea Kihlstedt:
Take a tranquilizer before you go.

Amy Eisenstein:
Right. Take a tranquilizer. All right. Send somebody else.

Andrea Kihlstedt:
Send somebody else. Exactly.

Amy Eisenstein:
Don’t go yourself, send somebody else.

Andrea Kihlstedt:
Yes.

Amy Eisenstein:
Really find someone that they would think is their peer. It might be the president of the board, it might be the chair of the campaign, it might be the executive director, offer to meet them at their office, go them. Okay.

Andrea Kihlstedt:
Don’t argue.

Amy Eisenstein:
Don’t argue

Andrea Kihlstedt:
So hard not to do that. So hard.

Amy Eisenstein:
Lisa says, bring cookies with tranquilizers for everyone.

Andrea Kihlstedt:
I think that’s a good idea.

Amy Eisenstein:
Bring cookies. All right. Bring sugar and caffeine. It’s sort of a white flag, a peace offering.

Andrea Kihlstedt:
Yes.

On Completing Your Case Statement

Amy Eisenstein:
All right. Good. All right. So Marcy is asking, should we have a case statement complete when we go to meet major donors during quiet —

Andrea Kihlstedt:
You know what I’m going to —

Amy Eisenstein:
Yes. I’m going to —

Andrea Kihlstedt:
You know what I’m going to say.

Amy Eisenstein:
… Let you answer it, Andrea. Go ahead.

Andrea Kihlstedt:
Amy, knows what I’m going to say, which is that, the worst case statement and complete don’t go together. That there is almost no such thing as a complete case statement, they’re only case statement drafts. Because it will shift and change and get better and improve and slide around as you get better. A case statement remembers is not a document cast in stone, it’s not a brochure. It takes a long time to really wrestle with what you’re doing and how to communicate and what the language should be.

And to the extent that it’s marked and draft for you to discuss with your major donors, it will be all the better. So you can take a draft, big drafts statement and you show it to your major donors and say, we’re working on this, when you read this over, what do you think of it? What works? What’s compelling? What questions does it raise? That will get you much farther in the conversation with your major donors than having a document you believe is complete, and that you are going to defend when they don’t like it. So get yourself in this, and get more tranquilizers, this is… We’re having a call about tranquilizers today, Amy. This is-

Amy Eisenstein:
Now listen, Marcy’s in the quiet phase, right?

Andrea Kihlstedt:
Yes.

Amy Eisenstein:
This is not still the feasibility study stage, so you’re not quite collecting feedback-

Andrea Kihlstedt:
No.

Amy Eisenstein:
… But

Andrea Kihlstedt:
No, but you can still… It doesn’t still doesn’t have to be a finalized piece.

Amy Eisenstein:
Yes.

Andrea Kihlstedt:
Right?

Amy Eisenstein:
Right. We definitely don’t want it to be a brochure, because then you’re locked in. So a nice word document, whatever it looks like.

Andrea Kihlstedt:
And print “draft 41” at the top, or “draft 34.” It’s no harm in telling people, we’ve been working on shaping the language of this for a long time, and here’s what we’re doing now. I just finished writing a post, not for a CCT, but for another organization about case statements and donor engagement, that donor discussion guides. So we encourage you, when you talk to your donors, to take really a visual graphic outline of what it is you’re doing, not a document that they have to read. You can send a case in advance, but then bring something that’s much simpler in outline form when you actually meet with your major donors. But that’s a subject for another call, I think.

Amy Eisenstein:
All right. It’s almost time, well, it’s time. I’m declaring a time for our seventh inning stretch. We’re a little more than halfway through. So everybody literally and figuratively take a stretch and get those fingers typing. Part of the beauty of these calls is that we answer your questions. And if you have a question, somebody else is thinking that same exact question, and there are no dumb questions on Toolkit Talks. We try and answer them all to the best of our ability. Sometimes we agree, most of the time we agree, sometimes we disagree, but that’s part of the fun. And if we don’t know the answer, we ask for community feedback in the chat.

I’m wondering what questions you have this week that you can go ahead and type in the Q & A box, and then we’ll move on to Shoshana’s that is up here. I want to just let everybody know that in two weeks, on the 22nd, we will be having a topic all about board members and campaigns. So we want to invite you on November 22nd, to invite your board members to join us, we will be answering their questions, we will be talking about board member roles and responsibilities for campaigns. So please make a note now, bring your board members with you to Toolkit Talks, and you can go to Toolkittalks.com and have them sign up, and they’ll get the direct link. Okay. That’s the end of our seventh inning stretch.

Andrea Kihlstedt:
That’s going to be a fun session, Amy, I’m looking forward to it.

Attracting New Donors

Amy Eisenstein:
All right. Okay. Let’s go to Shoshana’s question here, any advice for startup organizations in attracting donors to increase capacity, especially donors, well, major donors for a science-based organization. So Shoshana, the best way to attract new donors is through people who already care about your organization. So you’re going to look to your current staff, and your board members, and your volunteers, and say, who do you know who would care about this mission, about this cause, because often people have friends and family members that care about the same kinds of things that you do. So in the beginning, it’s often through word of mouth and through immediate connections that you are going to attract new donors to increase capacity. And I think your challenge and opportunity is to be really clear about what impact you’re going to have.

What do you mean by increased capacity? One thing in your question you’re asking about, how do we attract major donors? I have to tell you that most donors start with smaller gifts, most donors don’t come and say, all right, I’m going to give a brand new organization that I’ve never given to be before, and I’m not really familiar with, and I don’t know anything about, and they don’t have much of a track record, let me just give them a major gift. It’s probably not going to happen. So I want you to get real in terms of what your expectations are and what’s realistic. Also, I’ll say that a major gift is different for every donor. So I don’t know what you mean when you say major gift, it might be a $1000, it might be $500, it might be a $100, 000.

Donors feel the same way, some donor could give you a $1000, to them that is not a major gift, and to you, it might be a major gift. Maybe you will get some major gifts at the beginning from donors who have a lot of philanthropy to give. I think there’s a lot of wiggle room here, but to me, it’s about really communicating well with your board members, with any staff members you have, with volunteers, and saying who are in your circles who do you know who might be interested in learning more about our organization and the impact that we could have if we had more financial resources. All right, Andrea-

Andrea Kihlstedt:
Yes.

Amy Eisenstein:
Want to answer —

Andrea Kihlstedt:
Yes. Let’s answer Susan’s question, now.

Amy Eisenstein:
Okay.

Andrea Kihlstedt:
We bring in a campaign chair and leadership. Let me start by saying that, that the quality of your campaign chair is really important. If you get a really great campaign chair, then your campaign will have a much easier time succeeding. Now, what do we mean by a really great campaign chair? Amy, you want to throw out some ideas and we can go back and forth on some qualities, and actually, why don’t you type into the chat? What do you think are characteristics of a really great campaign chair? Let’s get a whole list of them. I think we may have done this once before, but it is always a good thing to do. What would you look for in ideal campaign chair?

Amy Eisenstein:
And while you’re typing that in, I just want to say, Terry, thank you for typing this in you. Terry wrote, at one organization, I was with of the top 35 donors, some who gave seven figure gifts, all but one began at the hundred dollar level and stayed there until they engaged. Thank you, Terry. That’s a great example for what I was trying to describe before. Most donors aren’t going to start with a major gift, they’re going to start with a smaller gift, and work their way up as you do more good, as they get more engaged. Fantastic. Okay. So now we’ve got people —

Andrea Kihlstedt:
Write down this list, Susan, because then we’re going to talk about when you need to get this person. Someone influential. Let me see, Michelle, thank you, not afraid to ask people he or she doesn’t know. Scott says, passionate about your organization. Sarah, passionate about and able to articulate why the cause matters. Martha, passion for our knowledge of the organization. Will, connected and good community relationships. Someone who isn’t afraid of hearing the word no, from Renata. Laurel, someone who leads by example, philanthropic gifts, great spokesperson, willing to do peer list review and ask others to join them. Enthusiasm, a dreamer who loves to share their enthusiasm. All of these things are really important. And I would add my chromic favorite to this list, which is that, someone who does what they say they’re going to do.

And let me just say, there is nothing worse than having a campaign chair who talks a big game and does nothing, because you can’t get around them. Once there, your campaign chair, and you find that they talk a big game and then you ask them to do things and they don’t do them, you’re totally stuck. It’s like having a boulder in the middle of your campaign. So make sure that your campaign chair actually has a track record of success of doing what they say they’re going to do. And actually the track record of success is a good thing to be looking for, someone who has been involved in other projects that have succeeded. Now, when do you need that person? Well, the simple answer is, as soon as you can get them. The sooner you can get them the better, but sometimes it doesn’t work out that way.

Sometimes it takes quite a while to find the right person or the right people and to recruit them, and to get them to say yes. But if you can start by getting a great chair, you know who that is, and you get them on board, everything else is going to be easier. It’s going to be easier to recruit all the rest of your committee. If there is someone who is known and that has credibility in your community, they are known for being successful, they’re known for doing what they say they’re going to do, they’re known for being generous in their own giving and commitments, they’re known for being passionate about your cause. I mean, imagine if you have that person right up front, all of a sudden, the rest of it becomes way easier. Right?

Amy Eisenstein:
Yes. So often two things, if you don’t know who that person is yet, your campaign chair, don’t panic, that person often surfaces through the process of doing a feasibility study. And if you think some of the qualities and characteristics that were listed, you can’t think of one person who has all these qualities and characteristics, you may wind up with campaign chairs, and that’s okay too. You may have somebody who’s enthusiastic, and vibrant, and electric, and is the public face of the campaign, someone else who’s more quiet, methodical, who goes and asks donors, is effective and influential. So you may have two people, and often that’s where campaign co-chairs come in. All right. I called for questions and now we’re inundated and won’t get to them all.

So, you got to ask your questions early, come back next Monday and ask your questions early. Okay.

Andrea Kihlstedt:
Let me just follow up with Marcy’s follow up, well, it doesn’t matter if they’re well-known, probably it’s wonderful if they’re well-known and depends on how broadly, they don’t have to be famous. They don’t have to be that well-known, but it certainly helps if they have credibility in the community in which you are going to raise your money from. Now, I don’t know if that means well-known or not, the fame is not the issue, having credibility in the right community, I think is the issue. And I hope that that helps you Marcy.

Capital Campaigns for Smaller Nonprofits

Amy Eisenstein:
All right. Celestie is asking a good question. She’s asking, how should we think about our capital campaign committee, or a small nonprofit, none of our donors are major donors, the maximum donation is $10,000.

Celestie, that is a great question. And I have to say, a lot of nonprofits face that and are concerned about that. I want to make sure that you and everybody else remembers that, when you do a campaign, it is an opportunity for donors to significantly increase their donations. Anybody who’s giving a $1000 now that doesn’t mean that’s the maximum that they can ever give. That’s either what you’ve asked for or you haven’t asked for any specific amounts, so that’s what they give. But a really compelling case for support a really exciting project often spurs donors to give significantly more.

That’s what happens in campaigns, but not only that, annual fund gifts are often made out of cash flow from checkbook writing, from credit cards, but campaign gifts are made with assets, they’re made with stock, they’re made with property, they’re made with retirement plan funds. So don’t think just because somebody gives a $1000 or $10,000, that that’s what they can give, that’s what they have been giving. And so unless you’ve asked for significantly bigger gifts and you have gotten no’s, but that’s an opportunity to explore in a feasibility study, is what is the potential of your donors. There’s lots of ways to examine that. All right. You want to add anything or do you want to go onto another?

Andrea Kihlstedt:
Let me go Christina’s question. Christina has a knotty problem, and I don’t probably have a good answer to it, but I want to recognize the problem that you identify, which is that, they have about 57% of their money in is raised, but the campaign stalled, and the building is now complete and open. And they’re planning a campaign relaunch in January, but what tips do we have on a relaunch when the building is open but not paid for? That’s a knotty problem. And we know in this field that once the building is open, it’s much more difficult to raise money for it.

So I guess the first thing I would do is to have your financial people sharpen their pencils and see whether it’s possible to have other financing strategies. If you can greatly cut down the amount of money you have yet to raise, and perhaps go back to some of the initial and the largest donors to see if they’re willing to give another gift on top, perhaps another year of a pledge or something like that. It just becomes very difficult to raise money for a building once it’s open. And you may have to rejig your campaigns or the amount of money you have left to raise as far smaller than you thought it would be.

Amy Eisenstein:
All right.

Andrea Kihlstedt:
Cindy is asking a question.

Adding an Endowment Component to a Campaign

Amy Eisenstein:
Yeah. Cindy has asked a question. The summary is, they have a $100 million campaign goal without endowment gifts, but of course they want to add an endowment component so that they have some program money and perpetuity. So really thinking about $130 million goal with the endowment, but nervous about setting such a significant goal. I think that’s the gist of the question, is this quiet stretch… Let’s see, how do we represent the real ambition of the campaign so that the lead gift is accurate in the context of the campaign, I think?

Well, a couple of things, Cindy, I think you’re doing a guided feasibility study, but I can’t quite remember. So one of the things to do potentially is test the $130 million goal in your guided feasibility study and see how your community and your donors react to that number. Andrea, why don’t you talk about above the line and below the line goals, and what you think about in terms of getting from planned gifts, which is a component of your campaign versus cash, or short-term gifts versus long-term gifts, which often fund the endowment portion.

Andrea Kihlstedt:
Cindy, you are in an old well-established institution, and I can imagine that a pretty good number of the people of your donors are not young. Now, I know you’re in Canada and I don’t know anything about estate planning or campaign giving, what plan gifts in Canada. So forgive me, you know more than I do about that. But if it were here in the States where I know a little more, what I would say is that, in the context of your campaign, you need to be ramping up a specific plan giving components, so when you talk to your major donors, you were asking them both for immediate cash gifts, and pledges and planned gifts to go to your campaign. You probably need to keep separate, your endowment goals, and think about, what you want those goals to be, whether they’re activity goals, the number of requests or estate gifts that you hope to bring into this campaign, or whether they’re dollar goals.

And if so, what you’re going to count towards those dollar goals. And as you know, you’re a pro Cindy, I know that about you, that you’ve probably thought a lot of this through. I think I would be inclined not to present it as $130 million campaign, but not everyone is going to agree with me on that. I mean, your question is, how do you calibrate the top gift? It is a calibrated on a $100 million or $130 million campaign. I suppose it depends in part on your donor base and what about your donor base. But some portion of those endowment gifts are likely to come in in deferred gifts. So you’re going to need to take account of that and probably separate them out. Often what we talk about is having an above the line or below the line, above the line is gifts that come in and cash and pledges and securities and other more immediate gifts, and below the line being gifts that come in deferred and over a longer period of time.

Amy Eisenstein:
So Cindy, I’m going to encourage you since you’re a member of the Capital Campaign Toolkit to come to our weekly calls on Wednesdays, just for clients — it’s a much smaller group, ask your question, find out, there’s going to be two advisors there. They may have some good advice for you, as well as the other people on the call may be, they have experienced this already, and they’ll have ideas about what they’re doing. And I think it’s a good question to ask at one of those weekly Wednesday calls. So I encourage you to show up for one of those this month and ask that question again and see what some of our other clients are doing and see what some of your peers are doing.

But I think, Andrea is right, you want to have a goal for your planned giving, for your endowment, which might be to have 20 or 50 new bequest intentions, or plan charitable gift annuities that will eventually go to the endowment. But you don’t need that money to pay for the building or the projects right now, but it is for future programs, stability, and growth. And so you may or may not be able to capture that in terms of hard numbers of total amounts, because you don’t know when those gifts will come in or what size they’ll come in at. All right.

Andrea Kihlstedt:
And there’s nothing wrong in going to the, your top donor and saying on a $100 million gift campaign we would love for you to do a gift of $20 million, and a plan gift, and an estate gift, and really publicized both of those to get that process going. I don’t think that’s something at least to consider. Again, the answer to this may be in the question, as you talk to your largest donors, see how they think you should handle it. I mean, answers and questions to it.

Amy Eisenstein:
Well, that’s what I hinted at before. That’s part of the Guided Feasibility Study or the feasibility study. You’re going to go talk to your donors and say, listen, we’re testing a $130 million goal here, 30 million has to go to the endowment, is that… I don’t know exactly what the question is, but how do you think about that piece of a campaign? Something like that. Yeah. All right. Melanie is asking about the role of grants in a campaign. What percent of a campaign should we target for grant gifts? Is it better to think about grant gifts as part of a public campaign?

I don’t think there’s any specific percentage, Melanie, every organization is going to be different, there are some missions that lend themselves more to foundation funders, and that are more highly supported by foundation funders. They may make some of the lead gifts to a campaign. And so I don’t think they’re part of the public phase or the quiet phase necessarily, I think it’s very specific to each organization and each industry. So if the vast majority of your funding comes from grants right now, it’ll probably play a bigger role in your campaign. If it’s a smaller part of your annual fund, they’ll probably play a smaller role in your campaign.

Andrea Kihlstedt:
Haley, your question… You’re exactly right, if someone gives you a significant gift, but it is designated for something that is not one of your campaign objectives, you cannot count it towards your campaign goal. Is true. So you’re asking exactly the right question. May not be the answer you’re happy for it, but you asked the question and I think you know the answer, that’s good.

Amy Eisenstein:
All right.

Andrea Kihlstedt:
And someone has asked, is it okay to have four campaign chairs, cross board representation, and does that seem odd? You can have four campaign chairs. It’s always best if you have one or two, and we may… If you’re going to do that maybe you have an honorary chair at the top, or maybe there’s one chair and then some co-chairs. You can have layered chairs and set it up by area or by division, or… One of our advisers, one of our most experienced advisors actually believes in having a chair of the quiet phase of the campaign, or a chair of the public phase of the campaign, or a chair of this or that. So if you keep going back to the original question about chairs, if you can’t find the ideal chair for your campaign, if you can’t get someone to agree to do that, you can break job down into smaller chunks and get great people for smaller bits of work. And that may lead you to multiplicity of campaign chairs, which is not ideal, but it’s not awful either.

Wrapping Up

Amy Eisenstein:
Excellent. Andrea, as always, I think this has been a robust conversation and we have answered a ton of questions, which is super exciting. I just want to remind everybody that we’re always happy to talk with you individually about the specifics of your campaign, just go to the Capital Campaign Toolkit website, and sign for a strategy session. We would be more than happy to talk about the ins and outs of your specific needs, and your specific campaign.

We will see you next week back here as always eager to answer your questions. And just a reminder, we thank you so much for joining us. This is really the highlight of our week.

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