When your organization decides to take the exciting step of launching a campaign, it’s hard not to talk about it! After all, campaigns aren’t a regular occurrence at organizations, and they can be totally transformative. In order to maximize the support around the project and campaign, it’s important to be intentional about how, when, and to whom you communicate your plans.
First things first – talk about the project! (Once you’ve completed a feasibility study and know that there is a project moving forward, of course.) The new building, the renovation, the new program – whatever it is, it’s an exciting step in your organization’s strategic direction. You want your supporters (and future supporters) to know how you are furthering your mission – and to get excited about it.
With that said, avoid talking about the campaign publicly until the campaign is in completion. In the early stages, when talking about the project, direct any campaign-related questions to your Campaign Director or Development Director. This allows an opportunity to be strategic in our communication – because, as we know, donors are not all the same, nor is the same information impactful to each.
Now, to more specific strategies. It’s important to be intentional about what we are communicating, how we are communicating, and to whom we are communicating throughout the campaign. There are various phases of a campaign and strategies to utilize in each:
Pre-Feasibility – This is a time to connect with your organization’s closet donors (i.e. the top 20 most cultivated donors) to share the strategic direction of the organization, an outline of the project, and how the project will solve issues and advance the organization. These connections will serve as opportunities to gather feedback from your closest supporters, as well as serve as important cultivation opportunities for early adopters.
Feasibility Study – Once the project is defined and details are more worked out, it’s time to test the project through a feasibility study conducted by a third party (like Kennari!). A feasibility packet will include the case for support (the why), project plan (the how), and constituent or prospect constituent details (the who). In addition to reconnecting with the supporters who heard the vision in pre-feasibility, we’ll also interview community leaders and more organization donors. The study serves to elicit feedback on the plan, including favorables and challenges for fundraising, as well as uncover what financial support is available.
Campaign Development – After appropriate adjustments have been made in accordance with the feasibility study results, it’s time to start the campaign. First up, it’s important to communicate with feasibility study participants; thank them for their participation and feedback, as well as communicate what was found in the study and how that impacted plans. Another priority in this stage is to secure 100% financial participation from your board and campaign cabinet members – it’s important to show stakeholders that our internal leadership is fully in support of the project and campaign. You’ll also focus on early adopters, particularly those identified during the study. Additionally, this time can be used to arm your volunteers with tools they’ll need to seamlessly engage with prospects.
Campaign Implementation – During this stage of the campaign, you’ll be focusing on connecting with middle adopters, a broader group of donor prospects. Various tools can be used to accomplish this outreach – eNewsletters, social media, tours, and, of course, individual outreach. Tours are an amazing tool at this stage, as you are showing rather than telling the opportunities that you are working to solve and the impact that the project will have.
Campaign Completion – In this stage, the main message is “help us finish this campaign!” You’ll communicate campaign details with stakeholders who have not yet heard from you, late adopters, and the general public. For stakeholder outreach, we recommend constituent campaigns. The constituent groups will vary based on your type of organization (alumni, faculty, vendors, program participants, etc.), with each group receiving a customized appeal for campaign support. For everyone in this stage, focus on engagement and involvement; that may look like a tour, a “sneak peek,” or a special activity.
We’d love to share more with you on how to engage various stakeholders throughout the campaign process; if you need a partner in your campaign journey, Kennari is here to help.