Our newest client, a cancer center at a large university, said ominously, “The Health Center is going into a new Capital Campaign in April.” Those words are usually conveyed in the tone of voice once reserved for “Hannibal, his armies, and elephants are just over that ridge.” Indeed, weaker agencies have fled clients for fear that the fundraising ambitions of the client cannot be met in the face of the larger institution’s $23Kazillian, 25-year capital campaign.
But fearing the capital campaign is akin to my Boston colleagues fearing winter: it happens, with regularity. Deal with it. Here’s how, with thanks to one of those Boston colleagues, Vice President Mary Bogucki of Amergent.
Get on board with the campaign: That great fundraiser, Michael Corleone, would say, “Keep your donors close, and the capital campaign team closer.” Get a seat at that table. Know what’s going on with the campaign and when. Get the style book so you can incorporate the campaign graphics into some of your own messages.
Hopefully your leadership understands that your donors are responsible for bringing the institution to its current point of “bulging at the seams” which led to the campaign. They need to be thanked for that, to be invited into the campaign if they wish, and to support the ongoing work of your institution while the campaign is underway.
Get your donors on board: Mary says, “By proactively notifying your direct mail donors of your Capital Campaign efforts, you have a greater chance to garner their support for the Campaign than if they heard the news through third-party channels. The primary challenge is to find the best way to inform current direct mail donors about the Campaign and make them feel part of the process. The intention is not to turn direct mail donors into “bricks and mortar” donors, rather, it is to make sure they feel informed – by YOU – of the events taking place. Your message will need to convey the importance of your organization’s mission.”
Mary suggests that you allow your donors to raise their own hands if they’re interested in supporting the capital campaign. She also suggests you keep all donors informed via articles in newsletters and pages on your website. Give them the option to contribute to the campaign a few times each year.
Overall, the campaign should be conveyed as a validation of their giving through the years, of the need within your community for your services, and as an assurance that you’ll be there for a long time as, together, you meet those needs.
Read Mary’s full article, and contribute your own thoughts and experiences below!