You don’t just have to do one major capital campaign every few years! Spice up your annual fundraising with mini-campaigns. These bite-size special campaigns breathe life and excitement into fundraising that often feels like a slog. You can use them to raise money for specific projects and at the same time draw your donors in.

Impact Moments

Donors like to know what impact their gifts are making. Think about it for a minute. Doesn’t it feel more satisfying when you send a check to help accomplish something specific?

That’s one of the reasons capital campaigns can raise so much money. They give donors a clear and often tangible focus for their gifts.

Focus a donor’s gifts on something specific and help them understand why it matters and how much money you need and you’re likely to raise more money.

Not only that, your donors will feel more satisfied when they have impact. And satisfied donors are more likely to give again and again.

Here’s the funny thing. It’s not difficult to highlight specific needs even in the context of your annual fundraising.

5 Simple Steps to a Mini-Campaign

Just apply this simple strategy, based on solid capital campaign principles, but adapted to small, do-it-now campaigns:

1. Pick a special mini-project.

Make sure it’s something your organization is planning to do. All the better if it’s already in your budget.

Select something that’s easy to grasp and with obvious impact.

These items might well already be in your budget and that’s just fine. I often think of this as “reframing” your budget. That is, going through it with an eye to pulling out specific things you will spend money on anyway.

It doesn’t matter that your organization is planning on investing it with or without fundraising. It does matter that it’s something appealing.

Take, for example, a new van. Or perhaps a new heating unit in the front lobby of your building where children stand shivering while they wait to be picked up. Or, raise money for the art supplies your classrooms will need for the holiday season.

You get the idea. Pick something specific that donors can easily imagine.

2. Put a price tag on it.

Make the price a round number that’s easy to grasp and remember. The price – your mini-campaign goal – should have some real relationship to what you are going to fund but it doesn’t need to be precise. You need a clear and honest rationale for your goal but you won’t need invoices for the items included.

3. Clarify the impact.

In simple terms be able to state why your mini-project matters. What difference will it make to the people you serve. Don’t write five pages about its impact. Get it down to a paragraph or even just a couple of sentences. You might try the “if it doesn’t fit on a napkin, it’s too long” strategy of the very smart fundraisers at ForImpact.org!

4. Select a few donors.

Don’t go crazy here. Just pick a few people – perhaps 10 or 15. You should include people who already support your organization who you think might enjoy making a special gift to help you get this project done. (Yes, people actually enjoy helping to make something possible.)

5. Ask them to help fund the project.

Don’t let your mini-campaign go awry with this step!

I know that despite your best intentions, you’re likely to get cold feet when it comes to asking. If you don’t ask people to help, there’s a good chance they won’t.

It’s not because they don’t want to help. No. They do want to help! Your donors won’t give because you haven’t shown them clearly and specifically the difference their gift will make.

Asking a donor for a gift that will make something possible gives that person a wonderful and uplifting sense that they can make a real difference.

Multiply Your Impact

You can multiply the impact of this kind of mini-campaign fundraising with two simple practices.

Build these mini-campaigns into your year-round fundraising so that every year, you have two or three of them.

And for each mini-campaign, pull together a small ad-hoc committee of donors to help. Committee members can then make their own gifts to the project and invite others to give. Keep them small and tightly focused so the entire mini-campaign can be completed in a month.

Learn More About Capital Campaigns

A mini-campaign sounds easy, doesn’t it? It’s pretty simple and doesn’t take too much time. But it’s based on the same powerful principles as a full-scale capital campaign.

Learn more about capital campaigns in my free webinar on April 12th. You’ll learn how to set your organization up for success, and I’ll share seven powerful campaign lessons that everyone wants to know. Spaces are limited, so register now!

Andrea Kihlstedt
Andrea Kihlstedt has literally written the most comprehensive book in the field on capital campaign fundraising, among a number of additional fundraising titles. Her book, Capital Campaigns: Strategies that Work, serves as the text in advanced fundraising courses for the leading non-profit programs worldwide. This remarkable book is now out in its 4th edition. Not only is she an expert on capital campaign fundraising, she worked for many years as a campaign consultant and is now a top flight coach, having both studied and taught at the Gestalt International Study Center.