One key question in campaign planning is: “What is the timeline for meeting goal?” There is no one-size-fits-all answer to this question. Campaigns with goals of less than $1 million can require as much time as multi-million dollar efforts, depending on an organization’s prospect pool and available staff and volunteer leadership. Still most campaigns entail three key phases:
The Readiness Phase is a critical period that helps an organization define its strategic objectives and what will be needed to accomplish these objectives through a campaign. This phase often begins with organization-wide strategic planning and assessing the fundraising program’s capacity for campaign success (a.k.a. feasibility study). If deemed ready for a campaign, then it is time to: recruit staff and volunteer leadership who will help with campaign planning and solicitations, identify your most viable funding prospects, and create compelling messaging describing the need for support. These efforts culminate in the development of a plan spelling out the campaign’s goals, organization, key strategies, and policies for accepting, acknowledging, and recognizing gifts.
The Leadership Gifts Phase is a period focused on raising some of the most influential gifts in the campaign. During this earliest phase of solicitations, it is important to secure 100% support from the governing board and campaign leaders – you cannot expect the broader community to help meet your goals if your insiders have not demonstrated your project is worthy of support. This is also a period when efforts are focused on your largest gift prospects. You want to appeal to these prospects early because their gifts will move you closer to the goal in the shortest period of time and will motivate others to want to be a part of this success.
The Broad Appeal Phase (a.k.a. public phase) is when campaign outreach expands to prospects of all gift levels. While gifts during this phase tend to be smaller than in the Leadership Gifts Phase, this campaign period can require significant staff time issuing mass appeals by mail, email, and social media; planning fundraising and celebration events; and coordinating donor recognition displays.
Every campaign is unique and, inevitably, opportunities arise over the course of initiatives that shift the timing for planned strategies. Still, maintaining a detailed timeline throughout a campaign is crucial to creating a sense of urgency in meeting goals and keeping your organization on track for success.