A campaign can focus your activity, clearly demonstrate where philanthropy has an impact on your school’s future, and galvanise your supporters to give, give more, and keep on giving. If it is done right, that is. And by right, we mean if it is well thought through, strategic, and supported by your school leadership. Campaigns take time to plan, and they require data to form the right level of an ambitious but achievable campaign.
You need to understand which fundraising activities (major gifts, regular giving, telethons, etc.) are going to be the most effective for you
Rushing into a campaign without having these priorities in place can be disastrous. It can damage confidence in development internally, be hugely disheartening for fundraisers, and, at worst, can damage relationships with your prospects and donors.
Take the time before a campaign to run a planning study or full assessment of your fundraising and engagement activity
That way, you’ll better understand the potential in your supporter community and be able to ascertain which projects have most traction with prospects. It will pay dividends in the long run. It will provide you with an even platform from which to build a campaign, to clearly see which fundraising activities will bring the best results, and to use the data from your database and giving records to form a realistic and evidence-based campaign goal.
Campaigns typically fall in to three stages – the planning, the private, and the public stages. Do not underestimate the importance of the planning stage
Use this time to run a planning study/feasibility study to fully understand what would be realistic for your campaign plan. During this time, analyse your fundraising practices, database, and potential wealth therein to current donor income, your case for support, and call to action. The 2018 Benchmarking Report also highlights the need to have a post-campaign plan. Campaigns should raise your ‘business as usual’ income, but most schools reported a decline.
Supporters can have differing or multiple interests, so to encourage as many individuals to donate as possible, it can be helpful to have a broad case for support
Taking a draft case for support out to some of your closest supporters and stakeholders is an effective way of testing affinity and understanding which projects have most appeal. It also acts as an incredibly powerful engagement tool. By involving supporters at such an early stage and seeking their feedback to help form the campaign, they will have a more invested interest.
Use hard data to inform your strategic plans
Not all fundraising activities are created equal, but each serves a purpose; measuring prospects’ inclinations to give through differing methods will be worthwhile in deciding on which fundraising activities to focus your precious time. Understanding the make-up of your database and various audiences’ giving preferences and potentials will allow you to ascertain how much could be raised and the resource and structure required to deliver that greater potential.
Campaigns can feel like stepping into the unknown and can risk becoming unwieldy and difficult to manage
Working with consultants can often help overcome some of these challenges. They can provide the external perspective and sector-wide expertise to help assess your campaign potential. The Benchmarking Report revealed that “58% of the schools in a campaign used consultants at some point during their campaigns. The schools which employed consultants to undertake a feasibility study, provide wealth profiling, and run telephone appeals displayed better average annual philanthropic income than those that did not employ consultants.”