This Capital Campaign Display: A No-No

June 28th, 2013

This capital campaign display signifies a lost opportunity for donor recognition to communicate stewardship at its best for this organization.

Capital Campaign No-No

Capital Campaign No-No

It’s sheer size and positioning “says” too much money has been spent; too much physical space in the building was allotted to the list; and just too much “visual” attention has been given to the public presentation of a list of donors for whom this gift is/must be one of many.

Here are my requisites for presenting campaign donors within a display:

  • First, campaign giving is crucial, yet not the penultimate gift. This example “says” to me that these donors may be the only donors that have of merit.  While this is a young organization and these donors have done much to put them on the map with this new facility to this point, the organization would have been better served by factoring campaign giving into an over-arching recognition strategy BEFORE deciding on product solutions. It is critical to the overall recognition plan that inappropriate money, space and importance NOT be set aside for this group of givers. To me, continued giving and estate giving by donors trump a single gift to a single campaign.
  • It IS important to acknowledge and honor these donors who have “stepped up” to answer the call/need. Certainly, never fail to list  campaign givers as I have seen happen so many times.
  • Campaign giving IS to be singled out into a group and celebrated for that effort.
  • Campaign recognition IS to appear permanent, as permanent as the facility that they have made happen
  • Setting an entry level for appearing in a formal, permanent recognition IS perfectly acceptable and even preferred as a way to get low-end givers to stretch for the opportunity of a permanent listing.
  • Materials ARE to chosen based on the architectural environment AND the philanthropy branding of the organization. Donors are to be made to feel a part of both the organization and the physical space that represent the campaign they have supported.
  • The prominent positioning within the facility of such a listing IS mandatory. Viewers (prospective donors) are to understand the importance of that list of givers to the success of the capital campaign.
  • INSURE that content of the display tells the story and uses celebratory wording in honoring those who have answered the appeal.

money_black_hole_xlargeThere are also pitfalls (read that: MONEY PITS) to avoid as well:

  • DO NOT ask or let your architect tell you where to place the display. Fundraisers have to take the lead on approximate size, location and budgets.  They must review the blueprints and tell Facilities or their architect where it “should” be located. Communication of these details by the 80% stage of construction documentation means that most any change to positioning will not significantly impact cost of construction.

Architects understand the importance of the display, but not it’s function within fundraising strategies.

  • AVOID thinking of the campaign display as an architectural feature. That sort of thinking means too much attention and money will be spent on that display.
  • Establish a budget EARLY in the process. Otherwise, monies get spent on all sorts of overages, leaving the fundraiser without many options.
  • Electronic listings of campaign donors DO NOT convey permanence to the donor or the public. There simply are some gift types/levels that deserve to be seen 24/7/365 due to their importance to the organization’s overall game plan.

Just remember that campaign giving represents only a moment in time for a donor’s involvement in an organization’s fundraising accomplishments.  On-going giving over the years (continued giving) and donor retention must exist as the frame to the larger picture of motivation through recognition.


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