In the recent iWave webinar “Events Canceled? Use Capital Campaign Solicitation Strategies to Make up for Losses,” CampaignCounsel.org suggested considering capital campaign solicitation strategies to make up losses from canceled fundraising events. Capital campaigns use a proven process to secure large gifts and pledges for multi-million dollar building projects. Integrating capital campaign strategies into your fundraising efforts may put you back on track.
Here’s a checklist from the webinar translating the steps of a capital campaign into your new fundraising plan that includes preparing cohesive materials to carry you through the effort, gaining an understanding of the donors on whom to focus your efforts, and embracing new strategies to cultivate, solicit and steward those donors at an appropriate level.
Set Your Goal
Set your objective for this fundraising campaign and clarify your goal by taking answering the following:
- Where have your losses occurred?
- What is your current need?
- How does filling that need benefit your community?
Identifying the specific people who will help you reach this goal is your next task. Follow these steps:
- Segment your current database of prospects based on frequency of giving, size of gifts, designation of gifts, and your personal access to the prospect.
- Use wealth screening to learn more about prospective donors and further segment.
- Confidentially review prospects with your board to combine the wealth screening data with your board members’ personal knowledge to best identify major-gift donors.
With your prospective donors identified, you can now create targeted solicitation materials.
- First develop a case for support, a document that aligns your organizational needs identified for this project with community benefits. To create your case, first refine your goal, test your goal with donors and then write a draft to share with your board. Use language of the case for support to develop professional materials that will help you make strong in-person and virtual solicitations.
- Campaign video about three minutes long
- Brochure related directly to this effort
- Ask letter that includes a specific ask amount
- Gift plan, if you are going to ask for gifts in an identified range
- Pledge form
- FAQ sheet including additional facts about your organization outside of this campaign
Educate and Cultivate
Before solicitations begin, it is best to spend up to two months educating and cultivating your prospective donors through direct mail newsletters. Your prospects should be familiar with the campaign before you approach them for a gift. These newsletters continue throughout your campaign.
- Create a direct mail newsletter specifically sharing about this campaign.
- Send the newsletter every four to six weeks only to those you’ve identified as likely to give significant amounts to this specific effort, not your entire donor database.
- Use a first-class stamp, a hand-signed cover letter, a directly addressed envelope and personal notes with this mailing.
- Each step is meant to elevate the personal ask that will be coming in the next few months.
The process of making solicitations begins with identifying and training solicitors.
- Solicitors – those board members who helped you identify prospects – should be trained on the qualities of making a good ask and how to handle the possible answers: Yes. No. I’ll give a lower amount. I’ll think about it.
- Assign ask amounts for each prospect based on wealth screening data and board conversation.
- Assign solicitors so that the asks are peer-to-peer, meaning the solicitor has made a gift the size of that he is asking the prospect to give and if possible is a close friend or family member.
- Personal solicitations should continue until 90 percent of your goal is met.
- Follow up with direct mail and email blasts to bring your entire donor community to a public phase of the campaign.
Every donor deserves to be thanked and recognized in a timely manner.
- A thank you letter within one week of making a pledge or gift.
- Pledge reminders that are accurate and timely.
- Donor recognition if you have planned for it as part of your campaign.
- Continue sharing your success using your newsletter and, eventually, through a community-wide press release.
Visit the CampaignCounsel.org free resources page to see examples of materials created for campaigns, learn more about a free capital campaign workshop for your board or to get in touch!
Melissa Sais is a consultant and communications director for CampaignCounsel.org providing capital campaign leadership, planning and management to nonprofits.