Watering a money tree
Published Date, 2022

One Goal, Many Benefits: How To Maximize The Impact Of Your Campaign Beyond Fundraising

Created By: Adam Glick and Sammy Turk Tolub
August 25, 2022

Campaigns, whether they are focused on capital projects, special programmatic initiatives, or building an endowment, are an exciting time in an organization’s history. Dedicated fundraising plans allow for leadership and supporters alike to make an even greater impact and write the next chapter of an organization’s story together. And while the end goal of any campaign is to generate significant revenue to fund a specific, longer-term goal, nonprofits can also use campaigns as an opportunity to invest more deeply in relationships with their current donors, attract new supporters, and expand their reach to those who can benefit from their important work.

To get the most out of a campaign, it’s important to remember that while an organization has an end goal in mind, there are also milestones throughout the course of a campaign that can be realized to revitalize and re-imagine messaging, remind supporters of the important work happening year-round, and provide a renewed sense of purpose to an organization’s leadership and its stakeholders.

Messaging is Key: Always Use “And”

With the excitement and competing priorities around any big initiative, it’s easy to get lost in the regular work that needs to happen in parallel to a campaign. Understanding that, articulating your organization’s need for both campaign-specific and annual fundraising support in all your communications is key. When you make an ask for one, there should always be an ask for the other. And while there will be some donors who are focused on only one area of your work, you may be surprised by how many donors will increase their annual gifts when additional needs are messaged effectively.

Looking Back, Looking Forward

With long-term donors, especially, campaigns offer a unique opportunity to remind them about the specifics of your work, current challenges you’re facing, and simply to thank them for their enduring support as you look to the future – no matter their giving level. If a donor has been giving consistently over time, harness the excitement of a campaign to share how their continued and, if appropriate, increased support around a campaign will further your mission and more directly impact those you serve. During a campaign, you are leading the charge toward the future of your organization. You want to use that momentum to highlight your organization’s mission and vision, remind existing and inform (and attract!) new donors about it, and show supporters why it is necessary to continue rallying around your cause. If they know where you’ve been, they’ll likely want to know where you’re going. The old saying that “your best prospects are your current donors” is never more accurate than in campaign fundraising.

Keep The Conversation Flowing

Ask your donors how and why they give. Is your organization among their top three giving priorities? Why have they been giving consistently? What about your organization and its mission speak to their philanthropic goals? Engaging donors about their involvement opens the door for continuing the conversation in a meaningful and authentic way, and it provides fundraisers a natural segue to share with donors what’s next.

It’s also critical that communications and fundraising teams work collaboratively to devise strategies, craft messaging, and produce materials for target and general audiences throughout the course of a campaign. A launch gets all the buzz, but what are your messaging points two years later? What significant milestones will donors of various giving levels want to know about, and to which can they anchor their giving? What progress can you report publicly and what is reserved for your most invested supporters, Board, and other leadership? Ensuring that a campaign communications calendar and materials are effectively leveraged can do a lot of the work for you insofar as staying ahead of your donors wondering “what’s next?” as you promote your campaign and elevate annual fundraising in the process.

You’re The Expert

While a campaign is more often than not reliant on funding that is dedicated and therefore restricted to it, a successful campaign is also an opportunity to generate increased unrestricted funds. As the expert in your field and most closely connected to the work of your organization, you can use a campaign to explain how unrestricted giving allows you to fund your needs where they are most pressing and urgent. Less successful campaigns often don’t impart a sense of urgency; more successful campaigns message repeatedly that the need is now, and your organization is working to make the world a better place today. Your donors can trust you to make the most of their gift – where and how it’s needed most. And, with this, you can better manage your unrestricted and restricted fundraising efforts between a campaign and annual fundraising simultaneously.  

While campaigns might tell the story of A to Z with a clear goal, the path between allows you to engage with your donors more intentionally, understand their connection to your mission, and ensure they’re with you for the journey and at the destination.

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