Capital Campaigns are NOT about Raising Money!

March 15th, 2016

I’ve come to understand that Capital Campaigns are about institutional transformation…..NOT about raising money. Improved donor stewardship is key.

True transformation will ensure intensive and far reaching, change to the core concepts and values of the entire organization. So change the way you think about thanking. Out think and out thank the competition. Make Donor Recognition efforts philanthropy branding and communication tools for the organization.

Just as a non profit organization spends time and money in prep for a campaign by evaluating just what has to be done to assure such meaningful change, early on, leaders must reflect on how their decisions to thank donors can be transformed.

Are day-to-day decisions to thank donors:

Proactive or reactionary?

Motivational or as an afterthought?

Programmatically planned or “in the moment” product decision-making?

Brand supportive or non-specific?

Any campaign (and, thus, an organization’s future) is best served if its thinking about thanking were transformed fully in preparation for imminent organizational change.

Written by Robin E. Williams  

The Path Is Yours to Choose

The Path Is Yours to Choose

 

“Just in Time” Donor Recognition

March 24th, 2015

Donor Recognition is the most powerful communication tool a fundraiser has. Yet, why is it that Donor Recognition plaques and displays seem to be ordered ONLY at the last minute? Continue reading »

Insights for Successful Campaigns from Barrett Carson

December 18th, 2014

BarrettBarrett Carson, now Vice President of Development at the Georgia Institute of Technology (Georgia Tech), was the speaker at this week’s Atlanta AFP Breakfast meeting . Having led many campaigns in his tenure at higher education institutions, he has had particular success at Georgia Tech (GT). He was asked to share some insights with those gathered there.

I took notes and they follow here. I present them here as he did, as “food for thought”. His experience is palpable so he just shared the keys he seemed to think would be most helpful to the rest of us. Am sure everyone took away pieces and parts they found useful and so I share my notes here.

Since joining GT in 1997, his first campaign was set for $300 million but ended with $715 million. Currently having exceeded $1.5 billion for this state university, he expressed his dismay that their fundraising organization is now ranked 53 in the world!

  • Define the campaign’s scope: Comprehensive or just Capital needs. For him, Comprehensive refers to wall-to-wall needs. It’s the type of effort he has focused on while at Georgia Tech.
  • Establish metrics that make sense for the organization from the outset to track progress
  • Diligence, discipline and reporting are easy words to list but key to achieving success
  • A campaign, by definition, elevates the sights of an institution. To that end he urged the audience to make the commitment never to revert to the staff or energy levels found during  pre-campaign status
  • Specifically, don’t gear up just to lay-off.
  • He is careful annually throughout the life of a campaign to add staff positions, which had been taken on for campaign purposes,  to become part of his annual budget. The idea is that by end of campaign those extra dollars allotted to new staff are by then part of his annual budget, allowing all new hires to be permanent members of the team. He never wants to step back to pre-campaign thinking or performance
  • When choosing staff choose who can be self-sustaining. Pay more to get better folks and then expect more of them. And demand that they do so without close supervision
  • Hire for collegiality not for rainmaking. Think long-term relationships with staff as well as donors. Their average tenure of staff at GT Development is 15 years
  • Define the Case for Support based on your organization’s aspirations. Temper each with reality and then set priorities and goals accordingly
  • Be diligent about accounting. Use accepted methodologies such as those set forth by CASE or CAE; make your own decisions as to how to “count” different gift types, like planned gifts, and then stick to it. Report each accordingly. Don’t deviate from your methodology
  • Outside fundraising counsel can be extremely valuable to leadership as an external source of legitimacy. As he explained it, his counsel often functioned as a sounding board for leadership’s new ideas. But be sure to hire the person, not the firm. You’ll be working with the person, not the firm.
  • Perhaps the most useful, not-to-be-overlooked statement to fundraisers was his view that Development is not to be evaluated for its cost center to an organization, but rather they are to be viewed as a Revenue Center. If management agrees, the organization will succeed because the fundraisers are then seen as respected, well-paid achievers/revenue producers 

 

Programmatic Donor Recognition in a Picture

August 25th, 2014

DR Hierarchy1DRhierAs a donor recognition consultant, I am asked often what I mean when I refer to a programmatic approach to donor recognition. This one picture says it all.

Efficiency and Accuracy. Continue reading »

Capital Campaigns are NOT about raising money

April 9th, 2014

After 30 years of focus on philanthropy, I’ve come to understand that Capital Campaigns are about institutional transformation…..NOT about raising money.

food for thoughtSo just as one evaluates all organizational efficiencies and goals in prep for the campaign, one must particularly reflect on how donors are thanked.

Proactive or reactionary? Motivational or an afterthought? Unified or hodge-podge? Programmatic or “in the moment”? Brand supportive or non-specific? Any campaign (and organization’s future) is better served if its thinking about thanking were transformed in preparation for imminent change.

Written by Robin E. Williams