A capital campaign during a global pandemic? What?
It can be done...and it can succeed! Start by asking yourself this question; how can an organization conduct a feasibility study before launching a campaign? The answer is to pivot like many do and consider engaging a consultant who is willing to do interviews via Skype, Zoom or Meet. A good adjunct to virtual interviews is a survey to board members and volunteers. You’ll find people are willing to talk, give advice, and be heard.
Consider extending the length of your campaign’s pledge period from the typical three years to five or even seven. This will help keep donors’ fears about the economy at bay. Of course, if someone is in the position to make an outright gift of cash or stock, don’t say no!
One of my clients, in the quiet phase of their $6.5M campaign, used the pause between March and late June to get behind-the-scenes work done. This included a case for support and other donor-facing materials. The organization’s website was completely updated, including a password-protected campaign page. (Password protection will be eliminated during the public phase of the campaign.) We also secured 100% Board giving and a lead gift, updated policies, began segmentation based on wealth screening, and prioritized prospects. Now that things are beginning to open up a bit, the executive director has been taking prospects to the site where the building will be built and walking the property, which is adjacent to a beautiful open space in the Colorado mountains. Of course, masks are worn and social distancing is followed. Now, we are planning a small group gathering of less than 25 at the site for campaign insiders. We are currently at more than 38% of our goal.
What we’ve found is that people are hungry to be engaged, especially with something which is beneficial to the community. People are eager to be outside and desperate for some social contact, even if at a distance. Donors, particularly, are concerned about the organizations they support. Tell them what you need, whether it’s for the annual fund or for a capital campaign. Try your hand at a socially distanced small event, and for those at higher risk for COVID-19, do virtual events.
This is the new normal. Let's embrace it and get creative when it comes to how we can continue to build.
Written By: Linda Garrison, CFRE, Advancement Strategist
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