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Season 2, Episode 14

Set up your 2022 nonprofit fundraising for success starting by following up and following through with your capital campaign donors. Fundraising experts Amy and Andrea talk about the phases and timing of your nonprofit’s campaign and communication. They discuss the importance of doing a good job on the last phase of your campaign. Following their advice will help set your next fundraising initiatives up for success. Make sure to check out our free Capital Campaign resources.

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This episode was recorded as part of a live webinar held Monday, November 15, 2021. To participate in future webinars, register at ToolkitTalks.com.

Andrea Kihlstedt:
I sat down yesterday to write a blog post about capital campaign timelines, and some of you may know that we have developed at the Capital Campaign Toolkit kind of a nifty graphic showing the seven phases of a campaign, and how they break out over sort of a range of months each of them.

Capital Campaign Timeline

What we find is that many campaigns take somewhere between 18 months at a minimum, but more likely somewhere between two and three years, and that if you represent an organization with a far-flung donor base, your campaign may well, if it’s an international organization with donors all over the place, your campaign may well take much more time than that, because you may have to roll it out in location by location.

As I started looking at the timeline, and thinking, well, what have we written about and what haven’t we? We’ve talked a lot about the fact that campaigns break into a quiet phase, and then a kick off and then a public phase, but you know, what we almost never talk about is this final phase of a campaign, which I think about as following up and following through, and that, we make shrift of it.

Hitting Your Campaign Goal is Not the End of Your Campaign

You might think that your campaign comes to an end when you celebrate success, right? When you go over your goal, and you have a party, or you have multiple parties, and everybody cheers, and you send them a big hurrah, and you may think your campaign is over.

But in reality, there’s a whole big part of your campaign that happens after that. Among other things, you have to collect pledges, because with campaigns people tend to pledge their gifts over three years, sometimes longer than that. You have a lot of people who helped make the campaign a success and you have to think carefully about how to communicate with them, not just for the collecting of their money, but for reporting on the project. Once you collected the money, and then the building is being built and the new programs are being started, and all this stuff you do as a result of their money, in some way that continues to be a part of the campaign, because if you forget your donors, when it comes to reporting on what their money made possible, it’s likely that what should have felt like a great success will become a little sour, and I just had an experience like that, which triggered all that thinking for me, in fact.

That it wasn’t for a big campaign, but somebody asked me for some money, and for a variety of reasons, I was happy to make the gift which was a pretty good-sized gift for me, and he was delighted and I was delighted, and I got a quick thank you letter, which was terrific and everyone feel good until I realized sometime later that the project had happened and I never got an invitation to it. I thought to myself, Holy mackerel, he was happy to take my money, and he was so busy getting other people’s monies or doing the project that he totally forgot that I actually had probably given one of the largest gifts to this project of his. It was a small project, it’s not thousands and thousands of dollars, but still the point was that as I started to think about that, I thought if he comes back to me for another gift for the next project is going to do, am I going to be inclined to give? I don’t think so.

That little story of mine is exactly what happens when you don’t pay a lot of attention to the final follow-up and follow through part of your campaign. You need to be sure as you’re planning your campaign that you are fully staffed up during that period, because all of you know how much detailed effort goes into tying up all those loose ends, and making sure that every donor feels as though they are well communicated with and well appreciated long after their money has come in, and that in some way, is the tie rod, I like that idea, is the tie rod between your campaign that you’ve just finished, and the next campaign, which you’re going to start. How well you do that, that piece.

Amy Eisenstein:
You may not want to think about the idea that you’re going to start another campaign as you’re winding down your campaign, but the reality is that too often we see organizations that want to do campaigns and they say, “Well, either the last campaign ended kind of funkily, or we didn’t stay in touch with our donors between campaigns.” So the reality is, when you finish a campaign, you have to be thinking about the next campaign, otherwise, your organization is set up badly, and too often we hear from people, well, we’re ready for a campaign, but we didn’t really thank our donors properly last time or we didn’t wrap up, and we haven’t kept in touch and this and that.

Andrea Kihlstedt:
I mean, how many times have we had that Amy?

Amy Eisenstein:
All the time.

Andrea Kihlstedt:
It gets particularly upsetting, when that’s what we hear about the lead donors. When the largest donors who gave half a million dollars or a quarter of a million dollars, and those are the people you fell out of touch with. It’s like, and why did you fall out of touch with them, because somehow you were intimidated by them, or you didn’t quite know how to get back in touch with them, or you didn’t feel comfortable and approaching them again, or whatever the reason was.

Amy Eisenstein:
Even the development director left, but there’s still needs to be a plan in place, whoever comes next needs to pick up that torch and run with it.

Andrea Kihlstedt:
What that means actually, because it’s not uncommon at the end of the campaign for an executive director to leave, a development director to leave, it’s not uncommon for people to sort of plan their career path and say, “When this campaign is over, then I’m going to move to my next job, or I’m going to retire or whatever it is you’re going to do.” But before you do that, you have to plan effectively, so that all of this follow up and follow through is laid out, so the next person can pick it up where it should be, and can really move every part of it so that every donor, and every volunteer feels as though they are a part of your world, not just when it’s time to ask them for money, but when it’s time to feel great about what their money accomplished. All right, that was my soapbox.

Amy Eisenstein:
Excellent. So I’m going to say one thing about timelines, I’m going to add one thing to our introductory conversation, and then we’re going to go to questions because you’ve asked a lot of great questions already. So the one thing that always strikes me that people are surprised by when they see our timeline graphic, and you can go to our website, capitalcampaignToolkit.com and click on Toolkit for nonprofits, and you will see our graphic timeline. But the one thing that I think surprises people most is how long the quiet phase is, and how short the public phase is. It makes sense once you understand that you’re raising 70%, or even 80% of your dollars in the quiet phase before you ever go public, before you do a press release or publicly announce the campaign or send direct mail pieces or do a phone-a-thon, or crowdfunding.

So you’re going to raise the vast majority of the dollars for the campaign in the quiet phase by talking to individual donors. So once you think about that, it makes sense that that piece would be longer often that will last for a year or even 18 months, but that’s not quick, and your public phase, which is where you’re raising the last 10%, 20%, 30% of your campaign dollars is quick, three to six months. Don’t drag it out over a year or two, that’s not the way it goes. So I think that that’s one thing that may surprise folks, they think that that that the public phase is this long, long, like anniversary year long celebration, public face, no. Quick, once you’re ready to go public, you want to wrap up that campaign as quickly as you can, and we have it on our timeline as approximately three months.

Andrea Kihlstedt:
The best way to explain why that’s important is by getting people to think about an image. So imagine an organization that is any campaign to raise, I don’t know $5 million to renovate their building, and they get to the public face, they get to the kickoff, and they put up a big thermometer in front of their building. They fill it in and red up to, they’ve already raised the five million, they’ve already raised $3 million, and they figure they’re going to take the next two years or the next year to raise the last two million. Every time someone drives by that corner in the community and they look at that thermometer for the next year —

Amy Eisenstein:
It’s barely gone anywhere.

Andrea Kihlstedt:
It looks like it doesn’t move. That’s the image. The idea of a campaign, the public face of a campaign is that if you are marshaling energy, it’s got to feel energetic, their thermometer, whether it’s a visual thermometer, or just the internal thermometer has got to move. So it’s got to be short and punchy and full of action and full of energy, and you have to move. Sometimes what people do actually is that some of the gifts that we’re already in, we’re already committed during the quiet phase of the campaign, you just haven’t announced them. So that in the public phase of the campaign, and the donors will know what you’re doing, and you can hold those gifts back, and when you need a boost to show that the campaign is getting to its goal, you can announce one of the gifts today is actually quietly been made earlier, but hasn’t yet been counted, that sounds like cheating, and I suppose it is, but it’s effective.

It’s not cheating in the sense that you ask the donor, if it’s okay, if you don’t count their gift, you know it’s committed, but you want to announce it during this period of the public phase, because you have to be able to show progress even during little lull periods. That’s a clever approach don’t you think, Amy?

What You Need for a Capital Campaign Plan

Amy Eisenstein:
Absolutely. You’re so clever, Andrea. All right, let’s go to some of these good questions. So Thea is asking about a completed written campaign plan, and where she might see an example of one? Thea, here’s the deal, campaign plans are proprietary, most organizations aren’t sharing them. So you probably are not going to find, unless somebody in the chat wants to share their campaign plan with the Thea, of course, then we can’t promise that it’s a great campaign plan, but I’m happy for you to exchange names and email addresses in the chat and trade samples of campaign plans.

Here’s what I would tell you, we can tell you what components need to be in your campaign plan, and certainly, we have all the components within the Capital Campaign Toolkit for paying members of the Capital Campaign Toolkit, but what you need is:

  • a gift range chart
  • a case for support
  • a list of donors called the depth chart (this corresponds or correlates to the gift range chart)

You also need a budget, you need a timeline, and you need a donor recognition plan.

Andrea Kihlstedt:
Plus, you need policies.

Amy Eisenstein:
Oh, gift policies. Yes. So instead of thinking about the capital campaign plan, think about what are the components? What do we need to make decisions about? What do we need to have? What documents need to be in the campaign plan? I think that will help you get farther than, what’s this massive campaign plan? It’s the sum of the parts. Anything else about that, Andrea?

Andrea Kihlstedt:
Then if you put all those parts together and put a cover saying this is the campaign plan and put an end-page and you hook them together, then you have your campaign plan. You put a table of contents, or an index, and then it looks remarkably like a campaign plan. In fact, it is a campaign plan.

Presenting a Capital Campaign on #GivingTuesday

Amy Eisenstein:
Excellent. Yes. All right. Caitlin’s asking, what is the best way to present a capital campaign on Giving Tuesday? Actually, Amy Shower gave you an excellent answer in the chat box. Amy, thank you for chiming in. I think the simple answer is that unless you’re in the public phase of your campaign, asking the community for support, it’s not time to present your capital campaign on Giving Tuesday. So use Giving Tuesday, if you’re going to use it for your annual fund, unless you’re in that short end of your campaign, you’ve already raised 70% or 80% of your dollars and you’re ready to go public or you’re in the public phase of your campaign, Giving Tuesday probably is not part of your capital campaign.

Andrea Kihlstedt:
Right. We’ve heard from a number of people in our world saying that they haven’t participated in Giving Tuesday, or that they have used it to thank donors rather than to ask for more money. The sense that is sort of complicated is a lot of time and energy and just simply gets in the way of their larger more effective fundraising plans. So there’s some questions about giving Tuesday and I agree with what Amy Shower and Amy Eisenstein have suggested that unless you’re at a very particular time in your campaign where you’re almost at the end, then you can celebrate it during Giving Tuesday and get it over your goal in one day. Now, that would be terrific. But it’s not likely that you’re going to be exactly in that place.

Do You Need a Strategic Plan for Your Campaign?

Amy Eisenstein:
Right. Andrea, I’m going to let you start kicking off with Haley’s question, and Haley wants to know if a strategic plan is necessary to begin a capital campaign.

Andrea Kihlstedt:
So Haley, here’s what to know about that, you have to know what it is you’re going to raise money for. Now, sometimes that grows out of a strategic plan or a long range plan. Sometimes, it comes from different places in an organization. Sometimes an organization knows that without doing a current strategic plan. So I hate to say that you have to have a strategic plan, the organization needs to be planful, needs to know what it is doing and why it’s doing it and why it is wanting to raise this money, and what difference it’s going to make to raise the money.

So they don’t tend to work well if one cockamamie board member decides that she’s going to put up a quarter million dollars if the organization makes an addition to the facility, and the board itself hasn’t approved that, but you want to avoid these things that are just ad hoc decisions. It needs to somehow be grounded in the plan for the organization, whether that requires strategic planning or not is another question.

Anniversary Campaigns and Board Training

Amy Eisenstein:
Excellent. All right, Tom, you’re asking how do you convince your board we need to do a capital campaign on the 50th anniversary and how do we train them? They’re not fundraisers will not fundraise themselves. So there’s two parts to your question, one is convincing your board we need to do a capital campaign on the 50th anniversary. I think, Andre and I would argue that you don’t need to do a campaign on your 50th anniversary. The question is, what do you need to do to grow your organization to the next level of programming service, and if that happens to fall on your 50th anniversary, okay. But a lot of people think that they need to have campaigns around a big milestone anniversary, and the reality is that an anniversary celebration is nice and it’s wonderful to it to celebrate all of your accomplishments, but an anniversary in and of itself is not motivating to donors, an anniversary looks backwards and says Look at all the great things we’ve done in the past. While a campaign is forward looking, it talks about what are we going to do in the future.

So it’s fine to have a campaign that happens to fall or is coordinated some activities and events around your 50th anniversary, but really the hard work is figuring out what do you need to have a campaign for? What are the campaign objectives? How are you going to expand your programs and services? How are you going to get a few steps closer to accomplishing your mission? Then your board will be excited if you can come up with an exciting vision, but it’s not your 50th anniversary. Go ahead

Andrea Kihlstedt:
I just want to share with Tom, Tom, you’re not alone in asking that question first of all, we don’t think it’s the right way to go, but it is a perfectly normal way to begin thinking and I understand why you think that. In fact, our primary sales person and I had a meeting recently with a prospective client for the Toolkit, and essentially they said our organization is going to be 50 years old and next year whenever it was coming up, and the board has decided it wants to have a campaign to raise get ready for it, $50 million. How do they want to raise that $50 million? Well, they’re going to get a steering committee of 50 people and they’re going to ask each for $2 million.

Now, honestly, this is doomed to failure. I understand that 50 is a nice round number, but it has nothing to do with the reason people give to this organization. The organization happens to have a wonderful mission, and $50 million because of the 50th birthday for 50 donors, each of them will give a million dollars touches none of it. So be aware that you don’t fall into the anniversary trap, that’s the anniversary trap.

Amy Eisenstein:
All right, so the second —

Andrea Kihlstedt:
Don’t feel you’re not alone, right?

Amy Eisenstein:
Yeah. Don’t feel bad, you’re not alone. Like I said, or maybe I didn’t say this, but lots of organizations do plan campaigns around anniversaries because they do a big strategic plan for their 50th anniversary, and they discover that they have all of these needs in this big vision, then you can plan a campaign around it, but the focus isn’t the 50th anniversary that’s in part of the messaging later on, but that’s not the primary focus.

Andrea Kihlstedt:
Well, and one more thing about this, which is that if you do figure out what the next 10, or 20, or 50 years are going to look like, and you come up with a set of campaign objectives, and you get ready to go, don’t coalesce the campaign kickoff with your 50th birthday celebration, that’s a mistake. Right? Have your 50th birthday celebration be your 50th birthday celebration, where you can talk about the vision for the institution going forward, and then have a separate event when the time is right for the campaign to kick off the campaign where you tell people how much money you’ve already raised and how much money is left to raise. But don’t go coalesce all those things just because you’ve got a 50th celebration coming out.

Amy Eisenstein:
So there was a second part to Tom’s question, and it was about training his board who really are not fundraisers. So I think for everybody, how do we get our board members ready for a campaign, Andrea?

Andrea Kihlstedt:
I just get rid of these darn things, I’m just not looking at these.

Amy Eisenstein:
That’s all right. His question was really how do you train your board? How do you get them ready for a campaign, they’re not fundraisers? So how do you use an organization get ready for a campaign if you have a board full of non-fundraisers, essentially, or people without wealth, or the list goes on and on?

Andrea Kihlstedt:
Well, and I think that’s a wonderful and important question, because most people have boards that are not made of fundraisers, and well, the people don’t know very much about campaigns. That’s I bet 80% of the people on this call, or 90% would say exactly the same thing. It’s the rare organization that has a sophisticated fundraising board, particularly a rare small organization, even the big ones don’t do very well on that score. The bigger question is, how do you train your board? That’s an interesting question because it’s bigger than saying, “All right, we’re going to come in on our white horses with a magic wand, and we’re going to sprinkle some dust and all of a sudden, your board will have become a sophisticated fundraising board that knows what they need to know about campaigns.” That’s not going to happen.

You need to think about trading your board in fundraising in a much more, what’s the word? Sort of a global way. Do they understand about fundraising for your annual fund? Do you train them to ask or to participate in your annual fundraising so they become comfortable with what it is to ask people for money? Do you involve them in helping to craft the case for support, whether it’s annually or for a campaign? Are they involved in the planning that goes into coming up with what your campaign is going to be about? Then, do you take some time in board meetings where perhaps, or a board member from another organization that’s been through a campaign comes and talks about their experience? You should use every board meeting, some little part of every board meeting to train your board. People learn and little dribs and drabs, and you should train them in little dribs and drabs.

Then once you’ve laid the groundwork for that, then when it comes to a campaign, you can hire a consultant, a local consultant, you can hire us to come and train your board, so that they understand what capital campaigns are. You can download from the Capital Campaign Toolkit, our downloadable which is what every board member needs to know about capital campaigns — or something like that.

Amy Eisenstein:
It’s in our resources section. So go to the Capital Campaign Toolkit website and go to the resources section and you’ll find it. Andrea, this summer we did a podcast interview with one of our advisors Xan Blake and she talked about learning and having everybody learn as board members together as opposed to training. I can’t remember exactly how she put it But anybody who’s interested in this topic go back and look at our podcasts from July or August of this year (2021) and look for the one with Xan Blake. I don’t know if you remember exactly how she put it but it was really excellent on getting your board to learn together as opposed to training, and I’ll try and find it and share it somewhere, but that’s where it is, in the July or August podcasts.

Completing a Capital Campaign without a Campaign Chair

Amy Eisenstein:
All right, let’s see, Sarah’s asking, have you seen major campaigns, she’s saying eight or nine figure campaigns completed without chairs. So, maybe a smaller advisory group as opposed to specifically naming campaign chairs, and Sarah, I think one of my questions would be sort of cooks in the kitchen, right? If no one’s in charge, who’s in charge? Who leads the meetings? Who makes final decisions? There’s certain names that have gravitas in the community, who’s going to be the letter signer? So I understand the need or the desire maybe for a committee, but leadership by committee might be hard if everybody doesn’t have a specific role. Anybody in the chat, anybody not have a campaign chair? I’ve seen one, two and three campaign chairs. So you could have three co-chairs, and they each play a different specific role, but I’d be curious to know if anybody didn’t have any campaign chairs. Andrea, have you worked on a campaign with no chairs?

Andrea Kihlstedt:
No, but I’ve worked on a campaign with multiple chairs. Which is not the same as just having everyone serve on an advisory committee, there’s something about someone being willing to step up and have the courage to say they’re willing to leave a part of the campaign or be an honorary chair or co-chair or lead one piece or another. There’s something about the courage that it takes to do that that gives everybody else confidence in the campaign, and I think we can’t overlook that. I mean, imagine actually, I don’t think we think about this enough, that when someone agrees to chair a campaign, think about the courage that that takes.

I mean, particularly, a community leader who has who has a significant reputation in whatever your community is, and they’re asked to chair a campaign to raise more money for your organization than you’ve ever raised, and what is that person thinking? So that person’s thinking, “Well, I think this organization is important, I believe what they’re doing, but what if they don’t get to their goal and my name is up there? Then I’m going to look like a fool. They have to be quite sure that the campaign is going to succeed, and they’re going to put their name up there as a campaign chair, if they’re going to stand up in public events, at public events, as the chair of the campaign.

I think we need to understand what kind of an internal calculus people are making when they decide to agree to chair a campaign, and this is not an easy choice for anyone to do. Do I have the time? Do I have the will? Do I have the courage? Do I believe this is going to succeed? Do I believe that my name on this campaign is going to help make it succeed? Am I going to be willing to do what needs to be done in order to make it succeed? Even if it means I’m going to have to give more than I thought I would give. So it’s no surprise that it’s hard to get a campaign chair, but it’s also no surprise that if you do get a great campaign chair, it speaks volumes for whether your campaign is going to succeed or not. So that’s a long answer to your question, but I think it is relevant about why it makes a difference when you have someone of substance in the community stand up and say, “Yes, I will take a public stand on behalf of this campaign.”

Raising Seed Funds

Amy Eisenstein:
All right, Kerry’s asking, we need to raise seed funds to start the larger campaign, how do we do that? That is a great question, Kerry, we get that all the time. It’s true, you need money before you can start or decide to have a campaign, you may need to pay an architect, there are lots of feasibility study is technically pre campaign, and it can be expensive. There’s lots of costs associated with seeding the larger campaign. So one of the things that we recommend is going to your board members, and maybe there’s one or two board members, maybe the board as a whole and say, “Listen, we are contemplating, in your case, your example, a $23 million dollar campaign.” But before we can really go down that road, there are a few important things we need to do, like pay an architect, look at blueprints, hire-

Andrea Kihlstedt:
Secure a piece of land.

Amy Eisenstein:
Right. Secure a piece of land, there’s lots of things. You might be hiring campaign council for the planning and the feasibility study, and so board members need to be willing to step up in your case, your example is $300,000, to even see if the campaigns viable sometimes. So they make that commitment with the understanding that there is a possibility that it won’t go through. But often one or two or three board members either will put it up themselves or issue a challenge to the rest of the board and say, “Okay, I’m going to put up $150,000, if the rest of the board puts up $150,000.” As sort of a challenge match and say, “This is just to see, or just to go down the path of starting a campaign, and this may not be your final campaign gift, and we will probably be back to you for a bigger campaign gift, but this is just the initial asked to get us started.” Any other ways for seed funding?

Andrea Kihlstedt:
No, I think that’s really right, and I’ve had an experience with that recently of my favorite plant in Providence, which I talk about periodically. They some years ago, they knew that they wanted to think about building a new building and land is hard to come by there and the ideal piece of land came available and the right location for them, and they didn’t have money to secure it. So I think they went to five donors. Some of them were board members, some of them were people who were regular donors who had been involved with this organization from the beginning and five donors put up about a quarter million dollars, I think that’s about what it was actually. The understanding was that they would secure the land, and if the building project didn’t happen, they could always sell it again. But this money gave them the seed money to actually secure and to hold the land which wasn’t likely to be available again.

Now, fast forward, three years or four years, whatever it’s been since then now the organization has raised, I don’t know, $11 million, or something like that there will be a building on this land, and looking at the donors to the bigger campaign, every one of the people who put seed money in have given significantly to the campaign itself. So that’s a very common way to think about that I would not encourage you to try to raise that money from the broad base, raise that money from the people who have the ability to give significantly, but get them to do a preliminary gift to help you get going.

Amy Eisenstein:
Excellent. So based on our last conversation a minute ago about campaign chairs, Todd is saying they don’t have a campaign chair yet, but we’re in the pre-feasibility study stage and have to co-chair prospects, and that’s right, Todd, because often the feasibility study is what sort of unearths for lack of a better term, helps you identify your campaign chair or chairs, so you don’t need to have that person right away, often they emerge, I should have said, maybe not unearth, emerge through that feasibility study process. So I think you’re right on there.

All right, let’s take our seventh inning stretch as we do in the middle of these, yeah, literally and figuratively, everybody Stretch, stretch, stretch. This is also my opportunity to tell you that next week on Toolkit Talks, we will be talking all about board members and board members roles and responsibilities and how they engage in a campaign and what kind of questions they should be asking. So we are asking you to invite your board members to join us next week for Toolkit Talks, so that they can ask their questions, and we will be prioritizing if we can, questions from board members specifically about campaigns. So please do invite all your board members to join us next week.

Andrea Kihlstedt:
Amy, what’s the best way for people to do that, which should they send their board members?

Amy Eisenstein:
Yes, it’s just Toolkittalks.com, and I will confirm that link, but just www.toolkittalks.com, and they can sign up and they will be sent the Zoom link and sent the invitations. So okay, that’s our-

Andrea Kihlstedt:
Tell them to come with their questions, if they have questions. Tell them they’ll have an opportunity to put their questions in the chat, and we as you know, we’ll do our best to get to as many of them as we can.

Informing the Board of Your Campaign

Amy Eisenstein:
Yes. Brandy is asking, will this be an appropriate session for churches who are building churches and starting campaigns? Absolutely. Yes, for sure. So bring your board members, and for some reason, my Toolkit talks isn’t opening, maybe my website’s slow, but it should be Toolkittalks.com. Actually if you just go to capitalcampaignToolkit.com a box will pop up inviting them to join Toolkit Talks. You know what? That’s even better. Send them right to capitalcampaigntoolkit.com, just our regular website and a box pops up inviting you to join Toolkit talks.

All right, Cheryl, you are asking a question, we’re in the planning phase of our campaign and already have a leading pledge from one of our board members. Congratulations. Since the board is not in on the planning do you think it’s okay for the full board to be informed? I want to use it as a bit of momentum for the other board members.

Andrea Kihlstedt:
All right. Wait, wait, wait, wait, so the board is not in on planning what? Explain a little more, I need to know what the board is not in on.

Amy Eisenstein:
Because we hope the board knows that there’s a campaign and somebody has already made a gift. Oh, they are in on the planning.

Andrea Kihlstedt:
They are in on the planning. Okay. All right. Good. Good. Well, so you have to go to the board member who has made the gift and make sure that they are fine with your telling the board, you have to start there. Then I think there is no harm at all in saying we have a wonderfully generous gift from our board members, so and so. As long as it’s fine with the board member. Just like with a campaign chair, there is nothing like someone stepping up with their own commitment to get other people excited and to move forward. Sometimes board members, if you have one or two board members who are far wealthier than the other board members, sometimes they’re going to feel uncomfortable about outing themselves in that way. So just be sure you check with that.

Your board may well as questions about what is going to be required of us as board members in our campaign. So you should be ready for that if those questions come up. You can defer it, you can say this is in the early stages, we are going to be working on developing a plan that will be training you, so all of your questions will be answered you can differ, but just be aware that every board member is worried that if one board member gave a million dollars, and they can only give $500 they’re going to worry about whether they belong on that board, and you need to be prepared to put them at their ease.

Amy Eisenstein:
Yeah, I think that’s right. You may want to hold off on making that announcement, so think about the timing, right? Do you want to provide some training first? Do you want to finish the feasibility study first? Maybe plan that announcement of that big board leading pledge and board gift right before you’re ready to ask your board members, and you’ve explained to them what their roles and responsibilities are, otherwise, it may trigger a panic. So use it to create momentum when the time is right.

Andrea Kihlstedt:
Yeah, I think that’s a great suggestion. Even if you do that, though, you have to be checking with the board member who’s made the gift, because while on one hand, they may not want the gift announced, on the other hand they may want the gift announce tomorrow to the board. You don’t know what people feel, so you need to have that conversation.

Capacity Campaigns vs. Capital Campaigns

Amy Eisenstein:
Andrea, let’s jump down to Heather’s question about the difference between a capacity campaign and a capital campaign.

Andrea Kihlstedt:
Yes. Yes. So here’s the situation, if we had the ability to change the way people use language, and that turns out to be hard to do, what we would do in the Capital Campaign Toolkit is that every one of these campaigns would be capacity campaigns, because a campaign like we’re talking about increases the capacity of the organization and a capital campaign to raise money for a building is just one way you can increase capacity. Now, that’s if we had our druthers. Of course, we can’t change the language that is deeply embedded in the way fundraisers think about this.

So the word, the phrase, capital campaign is largely, is broadly defined to include fundraising campaigns that move the organization forward, that springboard the organization to the next level of operation. You can have numerous things on your list that you’re going to raise money for. It can be a building or a renovation or new program startup or equipment or land or, or some relatively small portion of an endowment, and that’s a different situation. Some organizations raise money for what they call a spin down fund, or something that makes them nimble. Some organizations have missions that require them to be nimble, and they can raise money for a pot of funds that they can use immediately, when something comes up. Land trusts for example, they have to be nimble, I call them pounce funds, they have to be able to jump on opportunities, because the opportunities won’t last unless they have the money.

So there are lots of things you can raise money for that increase your capacity to do work, to do your work and they all get lumped together under the phrase capital campaign kind of loosely defined. If you want to get you know dicey about it, you can also think of a capital campaign as one where you’re raising money to build a building or you can think about it as one where people give out of their capital instead of out of their checkbook. Now that’s a more confusing answer than you ever wanted.

Amy Eisenstein:
All right, listen, I just want to remind everybody, I don’t know if we’re going to get to all of the questions today and some of them are fairly specific to your campaigns. So if you have a question that’s specific to your campaign, do feel free to go to the Capital Campaign Toolkit website and sign up for a free strategy session, we would be happy to talk to you about your campaign and the specifics that you’re dealing with individually. So go to capitalcampaigntoolkit.com, sign up to talk to an expert with our free strategy session, and we would be more than happy to answer any questions you have about your specific campaign situation.

So I have a very quick answer for Amy’s question, and I’m not even going to read it, Amy, I just want to tell you that you really are in the quiet phase of your campaign already, you just don’t know it. People can actually include gifts going back, you can pre date campaign gifts, all you need is a date and your campaign policies that say, “We’re going to count gifts to this campaign if they are given in such and such a date, after such as a date.” So you can define that you already are in your campaign just by how you define that the start date and stop date of your campaign. So baby, you’re already in the quiet phase, you just don’t realize it.

Endowment Fundraising

Amy Eisenstein:
All right. Sarah’s asking about endowment fundraising, would you call a campaign to grow an endowment, a capacity campaign? Talk about your views and opinions on endowment fundraising, and I was just having a conversation with someone who wants to do a $25 million endowment campaign.

Andrea Kihlstedt:
The 25th anniversary.

Amy Eisenstein:
The 25th anniversary. Exactly. So listen, think about it, from your donors perspective, a lot of donors don’t want to give to endowment, because if they give a million dollars, only 5% of that annually gets used for current programs and services, and they may not want to lock up their money for ever, they may want to say you know what? I want to give a million dollars to help you really catapult your organization right now. So many donors do not want to give to endowment. So by just having an endowment campaign, you are alienating some donors or not giving them an opportunity to participate. So I want you to think more broadly, I cannot believe that you don’t have current needs, or current capacity needs that you could invest in things, build things, grow things, whether it’s your staff or your technology, or training or branding, grow your programs and services, how you reach clients and how you serve clients.

I know organizations want endowment, but really, the number one way to grow your endowment is through a planned giving campaign, and that happens over time. So while an endowment is a piece of your campaign and should be a part of your campaign, it should not exclusively be a campaign because you’re going to have a lot of donors that say I’m not interested, no thanks.

Andrea Kihlstedt:
So hey there, if you apply for a strategy session, you can have your choice of speaking with one of us or speaking with Rich Quinn or Bosede Opetubo, and you’ll be able to pick. Sometimes it’s on a rolling basis, depending on whose schedule is open first, but you can also make a request, and we talk to a lot of people and we always enjoy it. So I want to end, can we go to Heidi’s question about why we’re capital campaigns.

Why We Got into Capital Campaign Support

Amy Eisenstein:
Yeah. I think that’s a perfect way to end, I was looking at Heidi’s question. Let’s read it. So Heidi’s asking how we got into capital campaigns, and why do we stay? Is it really a different type of fundraising and what appeals to us? So thank you for asking Heidi. Nobody asked that kind of question. That’s fun.

Andrea Kihlstedt:
Exactly. It is fun.

Amy Eisenstein:
All right, you go first.

Andrea Kihlstedt:
I go first. So I have to admit to you all, that I have always been in the capital campaign world since I began in this fundraising business which was way back, and here’s what I love about it. So I love that it is so strategic. I love that it’s not like being on a, what do you call it a wheel, a hamster wheel. I couldn’t stand finishing up a year of fundraising and having the meter set to zero again and having to get going on the same darn thing all over again, it would drive me totally nuts. I love the fact that capital campaigns focus on growing and increasing an organization’s impact, and how interesting and exciting it is, and I love the fact that that because the stakes of capital campaigns are so high, that organizations are in a place where they’re willing to take risks and to make change.

They’re not in a rut, they’re really willing to do things that they aren’t willing to do when they’re looking to just raise their annual operating funds again. So all of those are the things that have kept me in the capital campaign business. There are buildings all over the place, or organizations all over the place that when I drive by them or reminded of them, I just feel proud to have been a little part of having moved that organization to the next level of operation.

Amy Eisenstein:
So Heidi, I’m wondering why you’re asking that question, my guess is that either you’re a consultant or thinking about being a consultant, and I have to tell you, something that we never talk about on Toolkit talks is that we actually have a special version of the Capital Campaign Toolkit just for consultants to help their clients and to help them grow their businesses. So if that’s somewhere layered, deep down, behind your question, if you’re considering being a capital campaign consultant, or anybody else, go to the Capital Campaign Toolkit website, and there under Toolkit on the menu bar, there is a special section just for consultants who want to get into capital campaigns or grow their capital campaign business.

But I have to tell you that, how did I get into campaigns? Well, as a development director, I did a couple of campaigns that was several decades ago, as a consultant, of course, I did a few campaigns when I was a solopreneur, but really, Andrea and I for years had been trying to figure out the best way that we could work on a meaningful project together, and it turned out to be the Capital Campaign Toolkit. So that’s when I really full time got into capital campaigns, which is just a few years-

Andrea Kihlstedt:
I lured her, I lured her into capital campaigns.

Amy Eisenstein:
Yes, just over three years ago now, and really, I mean, as Andrea said, capital campaigns are the fundraising rocket fuel of fundraising. Annual fund is sort of the regular go around, come around, it’s critical and important, but a capital campaign jet propels your fundraising like no other type of fundraising. So, we think it’s absolutely where it’s at.

So all right. I think we’re good for today. You want to —

Andrea Kihlstedt:
I have one other little questions. So Katie Tilford, I can answer your question really quickly. I think you have a master plan, a landscape architect’s doing a master plan, it’s going to involve a whole bunch of stuff, and your campaign should be shaped around all of that. It should be the big picture, not little pieces of it. You should start by thinking about your campaign, well, we could raise X number of dollars to do this entire master plan. Or, if you’re going to phase the plan over 20 years. Maybe this is a master plan that’s going to be phased in over 20 years, then you should look at what the phases are, and you might do a campaign for each phase. But you don’t want to have too many little bitty campaigns, you want your campaign to be inspiring and awe inspiring. So when it’s done and the buildings are built, people are excited to have given. So don’t break it down into little pieces, when you have a big inspiring campaign goal, you’d be amazed at how people will give big and inspiring gifts.

Wrapping Up

Amy Eisenstein:
Excellent. All right. Just a quick reminder as we wrap up, bring your board members to next week Toolkit Talk, go to capitalcampaigntoolkit.com, and up should pop a box that invites them to Toolkit Talks, they do need to sign up so that they get the link and that they get the Zoom link and reminders. We would love for them to submit questions, so discuss with them in advance maybe what questions they might ask, and hopefully they won’t hold back and we’re going to dedicate the whole hour next time to board members.

All right, so they can go to Toolkittalks.com or Capital Campaign Toolkit to sign up. All right guys, thank you so much for joining us, it’s the highlight of our week. Andrea, thank you for doing this as always.

Andrea Kihlstedt:
Thanks, Amy. Always fun. Always fun. Your questions, you guys you have such great questions. You just make it fun and easy for us to do this and we really appreciate each and every one of you. So we will see you next week.

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