The Campaign Plan: Putting It All Together

An Essential Element of Success

Campaigns rarely unfold precisely as planned. No campaign plan can ever anticipate all the contingencies that are bound to occur during a capital campaign, or how each of these unique situations can best be resolved.

Most capital campaigns aim to generate support at several different levels, from a number of distinct constituencies. Through decades of experience, we’ve learned that the only practical way to implement such a complex undertaking is through a high degree of centralized coordination.

The campaign plan calls for a great deal to be accomplished in a short period of time. It is the rapid pace of events, and the volunteers’ adherence to the plan and timetable, which help to establish and maintain the momentum of a successful campaign. And it is precisely the dynamic nature of a campaign which requires that it be based on a realistic plan and organization, and executed within a specific time frame.

In this way, the campaign will achieve its ends as productively and efficiently as possible. What’s more, everyone involved will find the experience a satisfying and rewarding one!

Principles of Campaign Organization

The plan must integrate all the essential elements of a winning campaign into a detailed, step-by-step plan of action, based on a well-conceived strategy and implemented by a campaign organization built for the purpose, according to a definite schedule.

Such a plan must be guided by the time-tested principles and methodologies of successful fundraising. For example:

  • Personal (face-to-face) solicitation by a carefully selected and well-trained volunteer who has already made a financial commitment of his or her own. As the saying goes, “People give to people.” When a person is asked for a contribution, both the answer and the amount often depend to a great extent on who does the asking.
  • Selective and sequential solicitation beginning with the “institutional family,” including the trustees, and continuing with those known to be capable of the largest gifts. If those closest to the institution (and those who know it best) do not validate the campaign through a concrete expression of their support, then outsiders can hardly be expected to contribute generously.
  • Distribution of work that assigns all the anticipated tasks to soliciting and service committees with specific donor portfolios.
  • Definite and limited responsibility – through the use of specific job descriptions for all volunteer positions.

A capital campaign is a collaborative project of significant scope. To complete it successfully and on time, we need to make sure that every volunteer:

  • knows what he or she is expected to do;
  • understands how to go about doing it; and
  • has enough (but not too much!) to do.

The preparation of a practical plan of campaign is one of those tasks best entrusted to professional counsel, who can draw on a broad base of experience with other organizations, communities, and campaigns.

However, the plan should also be based on the specific facts, opinions, and advice gathered through a professionally conducted planning or feasibility study. The reason is simple: if you were to draw a map, you must first do a survey of the terrain. You need to find the high ground, the low ground, and most importantly, the pitfalls. This kind of information not only shows you how to avoid them—it can help you repair them.

Once defined and, more importantly, executed, your campaign plan becomes a road map to success that is tailored to your specific circumstances. Further, it provides a strong foundation for annual fundraising to follow.

click here for pdf version: FRM63

For more on The Winning Campaign, The Essential Elements of Success, access Goettler Series Volume 11