Posted , by Wendy McGrady, Vice President. Topic: Nonprofit Management, Preparing for a Campaign.

Last week, as a result of our webinar on “What Makes an Effective Capital Campaign?” a question arose that we thought was worth addressing. One participant asked us to further explain the need for the business plan that we often recommend developing before moving into any type of campaign.

The simple answer is this: a campaign should be considered a new line of business for an organization; therefore, a plan for the particular project that you are raising money for should be developed. Just as a company wouldn’t launch a new product line without a strategy for its marketing and sales, a capital project, for example, shouldn’t be embarked upon without a plan either.

Obviously, testing the feasibility of your campaign through a Planning Study is imperative to the success of any campaign but even before this step, it’s important to develop a business plan for the project itself. This entails a thorough analysis of all aspects of your project, including: the need and the cost, how it will be managed, how it will be sustained (operated and expenses covered), does it fit into your mission and does your organization have the ability to execute this project simultaneously with its existing programs/projects. It is imperative that your board thinks through these questions and develops a plan before even beginning a Planning Study, much less a campaign. Going through this exercise will help not only refine your plans but address any deficiencies.

Having a business plan in place helps an organization ensure that their project is credible and well founded. This is particularly important when talking to prospects about their gift to a campaign because it allows ‘the ask’ to be presented to them as a sound investment. Now more than ever, donors view charitable gifts as investments — they want to not only feel confident about the feasibility of the campaign, but to see metrics and know that the project has been well thought-out.

So before you consider proceeding with a campaign, no matter how big or small, ensure that you’ve done the proper planning and developed a road map not only for how the campaign will be orchestrated but how the project will sustain itself as well. This will allow your organization’s leaders more confidence in the campaign’s execution and your donors will be more responsive to your requests knowing there is a solid plan in place for the project once the money has been raised.

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