What We Do
A fundraising campaign is a great way to focus attention on your nonprofit’s financial needs. When done well it rallies staff, board, donors, and community members around the important work you do and your even stronger ability to do this work once you have raised the campaign’s proposed money.
Campaigns can be focused on physical space, programmatic growth, or on endowment. Most commonly they are used for physical renovations or the purchase and construction of new space. When this happens they are often referred to as “capital campaigns.”
Your success depends on determining whether you are ready for a campaign (see Feasibility Studies), and then calculating the right dollar goal to put in front of the right donors with the right story about your growth.
Our company can help your nonprofit with all of these pieces of the campaign and much more you haven’t begun to think about. We’ve been there and can lead you successfully through the process.
There is always a lot of chatter in the nonprofit world about feasibility studies and whether they are worth the money or really necessary. Most of this conversation comes from a misunderstanding of what a well-run feasibility study really is and what it does.
A fundraising feasibility study provides the necessary sharp focus to get organized for a capital campaign. It is not a separate activity from a campaign but really the vital first steps.
We believe it is best to see the study as the first part of a successful capital campaign. And we have definitely been involved in campaigns that have NOT done studies, always to their eventual detriment. When organizations choose not to conduct a study they are short circuiting the process and that eventually comes back to haunt them via missing information and constituent opinions, low volunteer participation, a case that does not resonate, etc.
Our approach to feasibility studies is guided by a simple principle we learned years ago from Andrea Kihlstedt: Engagement Yields Investment. Every action we take is geared toward engaging internal and external constituents in order to create shared ownership of your project by your community. This principle guides everything from our first meetings to learn about your leadership, to writing a case statement that includes the perspectives of key players, to how we conduct the interviews with an eye to inspiring prospective donors to get involved.
Nonprofit leaders often wonder why a feasibility study is needed. We frequently get asked: “Can’t we just do without it since we’ll save money and time?” And, “Why bother since we’re committed to the new building and need a campaign anyway?”
Here’s what a well-conceived study will do:
- Provide a context to get all your fundraising systems, communication and concepts in place so that you can prove to yourselves and your community that you can make a campaign happen.
- Clarify the Case for Support – This document is much more than a brochure and much different than a grant proposal. It needs to be started early and given careful consideration because it tells the story of your project with the necessary excitement that will rally internal and external players to participate.
- Determine how much money can be raised and from what sources including individuals (mostly), foundations and corporations (much less so). This is, of course, the crux of the matter and a study is the perfect platform to address this question.
- Determine when to start a capital campaign as well as its duration.
- Use the interview process as a first step in cultivating potential top donors including Campaign Planning Committee members.
- Use the interview process to determine public perceptions of this potential project.
- Assess the larger landscape regarding competitors, cultural issues, and community.
- Assess immediate next steps and a roadmap for a capital campaign and fundraising staffing structures..
The methodology we use to reach these goals involves meetings, interviews, and strategic actions that are carefully planned and scheduled to fit a tight timeline. Once we have conducted the interviews, we use a handful of campaign planning metrics to analyze the information and data we receive from our meetings and interviews to arrive at our recommendations
Major Gifts are a distinct and important fundraising channel. And when done right, fun is had by everyone! Donors become passionate about your organization and provide up to 80-90% of your annual support; Staff become more enthusiastic about their work because these relationships are powerful.
However, many nonprofits are not engaging this most financially capable segment of their constituency. They are not building the relationships that will yield major gifts.
We help you design a custom major gift program that will address your fundraising goals while keeping an eye on realistic staffing and results.
We work closely with your staff whether large or tiny. Our work includes:
- Building a Major Gifts Tool Kit that organizes your program
- Teaching you the principles of major gift relationship building
- Providing hands-on training for your meetings with potential donors
- Coaching you and your team as you roll out your program
- And, congratulating you as the gifts come in and the relationships grow
Our work with nonprofits is always hands-on. Sometimes the best way to help a development professional or executive director is through targeted coaching on their specific fundraising challenges. We do this via phone or Skype calls usually lasting 60 minutes each, several times each month to help move the fundraising process forward.
You can’t run a capital campaign or feasibility study with coaching alone, but it is great for many other fundraising situations.