Debunking 3 Myths:
A Campaign’s Impact on Annual Giving
A campaign is a transformational time in any organization. It is exciting, energizing and yes sometimes challenging. Having worked with nonprofits in campaigns, I have heard and disproved many myths surrounding campaigns and how they negatively impact an organization. Today, I am debunking three of them for you.
Myth #1: A Campaign Will Weaken Your Annual Fund
The Truth: A campaign, when done properly, has the potential to grow your annual fund.
A survey of nonprofits post-campaign conducted by our fellow Giving Institute member Campbell & Company found that 91% of respondents maintained or increased their annual contributed revenue during and post-campaign. 82% of respondents saw a moderate to significant increase in their average gift size to the annual fund during a campaign and not a single respondent had a decrease in the size of their donor base both during and after their campaign.
As you launch a campaign using best practices, you will see opportunities that will benefit your annual fund. Such as…
- Improved donor education: A campaign requires additional donor communication. Use it to educate your donors about the role that annual giving plays to support ongoing programs and operations and the different role that a campaign plays. Stress that a capital gift should never come at the expense of an annual gift. Consider a “double ask”: incorporating multi-year annual solicitations in conjunction with your multi-year capital ask.
- Enhanced donor data: Going through a campaign process, possibly investing in prospect research and other data analysis tools, you will review and analyze data on existing and potential supporters. By meeting with your campaign donors, you will gain understanding about giving interests and gift timing, gaining knowledge that will be beneficial for years to come.
- Increased awareness: While a campaign typically starts with the inner circle of invested board and donors, over time, the circle broadens. By sharing your campaign details with this broader circle, awareness about your mission spreads. This can attract new support and reengage lapsed donors.
Myth #2: A Campaign Will Lead to Board and Staff Burnout
The Truth: A campaign can actually reinvigorate your board and provide new purpose and opportunity for staff. You will find the board and staff thrive as you…
- Achieve common goals: Working toward a goal that the board and staff have rallied behind is invigorating. Moreover, accomplishing this goal brings a sense of ownership and pride to the organization as a whole.
- Invest in staff support: To achieve a campaign goal requires a lot of hard work. If you conducted a planning study or assessment of your internal structure and ignored staffing recommendations, chances are pretty high that your staff and possibly your board would get burned out. But, a campaign affords you the opportunity to assess and invest in your staff. Meet with them to understand personal aspirations. Assure them that you will invest in administrative support and campaign counsel if needed.
- Develop Leadership: A well-run campaign requires a dedicated and passionate leadership team and an effective partnership between staff and volunteers. During a planning study, we assess the board’s leadership and commitment to fundraising. As part of a campaign, your board will benefit from coaching, training in fundraising best practices and hands-on experience. These leaders will learn new skills, grow in their confidence and feel a sense of pride and ownership. Yes, you might find that some board members step down in the midst of a campaign as you build a board that is committed to the fundraising process. However, you will also find that your board as a whole finds a renewed passion, and that you identify new board members to join your team.
Myth #3: A Campaign Leads to Donor Fatigue
- Your culture of giving: Giving comes from the heart. Those supporters giving to your campaign are those who have a strong passion for the work you are doing. A campaign is a wonderful opportunity to demonstrate impact.
- Relationship building opportunities: A campaign affords you the opportunity to be face to face with your donors much more often than during a typical year. Meet with your major donors to share the overview of the campaign, give updates, invite for tours, ground breaking and grand openings. Donors can also be recognized with various naming opportunities, which only strengthen their commitment and connection to your organization.
- Dollars raised: Capital dollars often come from different “pockets.” Research shows that most donors give to annual programs using their checkbook, while capital gifts often come from assets or funds pledged during a longer period.