Linda Lysakowski, ACFRE
Life After the Capital Campaign (Part 7)
The campaign is over and generally the first thing staff is ready to do, is to kick back and relax after the final campaign celebration. A well-deserved vacation, or at least a few days off is probably a good idea. However, before the glow of a successful campaign fades, the organization should think about how it can “capitalize” on its success to build a stronger development program and stronger organization for the future.
One of the major benefits of a successful campaign is that it leaves your organization much stronger than it was prior to the campaign. The reasons for this are several:
- The campaign starts with an internal assessment and from that assessment will come recommendations to strengthen the infrastructure of your organization;
- The increased public relations efforts during a campaign will result in a heightened awareness of your organization in the community;
- The involvement of volunteers in the campaign will provide future volunteer fundraisers for the organization’s ongoing development efforts;
- Staff members will benefit from working with a consultant and will gain knowledge and experience that will be an asset to them and your organization.
Soon after the end of a campaign, there should be a debriefing with the board, staff, and campaign volunteers to discuss what went right, what went wrong, what should be done differently next time, and how to build on this success to enhance your ongoing development program.
The database system developed for the campaign must be maintained on an ongoing basis, and pledge reminders need to be sent out to ensure a good collection rate on pledges. Donor pledges should be tracked and when the pledge is paid off, it may be time to invite the donor to increase their annual giving. This may even be done while pledges are being fulfilled. Some organizations fear asking donors for additional funds, but once a donor has supported a major project, their level of interest in the organization as well as their level of commitment is generally increased dramatically, and they are more likely to support your organization on an ongoing basis, so they should be included in annual fund appeals as soon as they become part of the database system.
Staying in touch with donors on a regular basis, keeping them updated on the progress of the campaign and the project are important. Inviting all donors to the dedication and open house when the new facility is completed are steps that sometimes get overlooked. But remember, the key to successful fundraising is relationships, relationships, relationships; so, in order to build these good relationships you need to maintain good donor communications.
As with donors, campaign volunteers will have developed more awareness and commitment to the organization. Keeping campaign volunteers involved in your organization’s ongoing development efforts can be a real boost to fundraising efforts. Volunteers can help in the annual fund, major gifts programs, and planned giving campaigns, especially those who have been involved in making personal solicitations. They will have the training to be effective fundraisers because of their involvement in the campaign. Some of these volunteers might also be invited to serve on the board or the development committee.
The board’s role in the campaign may have been the first exposure they have had to the importance of their own giving. This commitment should be built upon in future annual appeals, by starting every year’s fundraising program with an annual board appeal. Board members, as with volunteers, through their involvement in the campaign will have more experience and knowledge about fundraising so they can now be invited to get more involved in the organization's ongoing development efforts.
The increased public awareness of your organization during the campaign can help it tremendously. Media contacts made during the campaign should continue to be cultivated for their ongoing support of the organization. Getting stories in the newspaper about the increased services the organization is able to provide because of the successful campaign will help in future fundraising efforts.
One of the biggest fears of organizations ending a campaign is that they now have experienced knowledgeable staff that have been through the campaign process, developed close relationship with donors, and learned from their work with experienced, knowledgeable consultant. Now, how do they keep those staff people in the organization? Providing opportunities for continued growth are important for staff. Allowing them to expand into new roles within the organization, recognizing them for their efforts during the campaign, and publicly acknowledging their work can all be benefits that can keep staff committed to the organization. Not only development staff should be considered in the growth of organization. For organizations where there was not a development department in place before the campaign, staff may have been moved from other departments to work on the campaign. If the organization has not had a development office before, this may be the time to consider having those staff serve in development roles permanently. Or if new staff has been hired for the campaign, these new people may be considered for permanent employment in the organization since they now have a commitment to the organization and valuable experience.
For some organizations a capital campaign may be a once in a lifetime occurrence. For others they will be ready for another campaign within a few years after the current one ends. Regardless in which situation your organization finds itself, don’t miss out on the opportunity to build a stronger organization after the campaign ends.