Amy Eisenstein, ACFRE will walk through how to make the most of your campaign plans, and modify them, during this crisis.

Full Transcript:

Steven: All right. Amy, we’re rolling. Is it okay if I go ahead and get this party started?

Amy: Do your thing. Do your thing. You’re in charge of the show.

Steven: Awesome. Welcome, everyone. Good afternoon just barely on the East Coast. Good morning to everybody else. If you’re watching the recording, I hope you’re having a good day no matter where you are, what time it is. Thanks for being here. We’re going to be talking about capital campaigns. What should we do? Should we stop? Should we go full steam ahead? Should we pause it? Reschedule? We’re going to talk about all of those things. It’s going to be a great hour. Thanks so much for joining us. I’m Steven. I’m over here at Bloomerang. Sorry. My camera’s a little fuzzy. It’s a real dark and gloomy day here, but it’s going to be a good one. We’re going to bring the sunshine for sure.

Just a couple of housekeeping items before we get going. Just want to let you all know that we are recording. We’ll be sending out the recording and the slides. In case you didn’t already get those, don’t worry, I’ll send all that good stuff out to you later this afternoon. So just be on the lookout. But most importantly, please send in your questions and comments along the way. There’s a chat box. There’s a Q&A box. We’ll keep our eyes on both those things. Don’t be shy. We’re going to try to get as many questions as we can towards the end. You can also send us a tweet. I’ll keep an eye on the Twitter feed as well, but don’t be shy. Don’t sit on those hands.

If this is your first Bloomerang webinar, welcome. We love doing these webinars. We do them a bunch of times a week nowadays. But if you’ve never heard of Bloomerang, just for context, if you’re wondering what the heck Bloomerang is, we’re software, we’re donor management software. If you’re curious about that, you can check us out later on. We’re pretty easy to find. We got all kinds of good stuff on our website. That’s what Bloomerang is. But don’t do that right now because we’ve got Amy Eisenstein here joining us from the beautiful Garden State. Amy, how’s it going? You doing okay?

Amy: Excellent. I’m always happy to be with you guys, Steven.

Steven: Oh. We love it. This is an easy add to our webinar schedule. Amy is a great friend of ours at Bloomerang. Hunkered down at home just like all of us, I’m sure, with kids and dogs running around. But she’s really my go-to for capital campaigns recently. And she’s got a really cool software product over at Capital Campaign Toolkit. You’re going to want to check that afterwards. But we’ve been getting questions about this topic. All the time I’m seeing it talked about online, so Amy was really gracious in coming on board just to kind of share her thoughts on what folks should be doing right now with all the craziness going on. So, Amy, I’m going to turn things over to you, and I’ll let you bring up your brilliant slide presentation.

Amy: Excellent. I shall do that. All right.

Steven: Floor is yours, my friend. Take it away.

Amy: All right. Excellent. All right. So we’re going to talk about capital campaigns in the midst of a pandemic. Oh, good. Let me turn my video off too. We’ll do that. I’ll come back and say hi later. Now I’ve lost my control panel. Here it is. Okay. But I’m really here, and we will come back later during some Q&A. But we’re going to talk about capital campaigns in the midst of pandemic. Should you stop? Should you go? What what’s going on? So that’s the topic of today.

So you probably, if you’re thinking about a campaign, if you’re just getting started on a campaign, you’re probably as anxious about a capital campaign because, generally, by definition, not always, but generally, they are the biggest fundraising endeavor your organization has ever undertaken. So it’s perfectly natural and normal to be anxious about it. And then the idea of doing one during a pandemic, it’s crazy. So you may not be sure where the big gifts will come from not sure if your campaign’s going to succeed. You may not even be sure what’s expected of you. So those are some of the things that we’re going to cover today and we’re going to talk about whether you should stop, go, or proceed with caution during this unprecedented time.

So if you’re anxious, you’re not alone. I wanted to just throw that out there upfront. I think, you know, that is the norm because honestly, capital campaigns or capacity campaigns, comprehensive campaigns, I’m going to use the terms interchangeably. And we’ll talk a lot, a little bit more about them as we move through. But whether you’re talking about an actual building campaign, more of a capital campaign, a capacity campaign, where your organization’s getting to the next level in terms of capacity and who you can serve, a comprehensive campaign includes all of the above, including your annual fund.

But when you do a big once in a while campaign, right? It’s not your annual fund. This type of campaign gets your organization from where you are to the next level. And really, most organizations, they do these types of campaigns, these big campaigns once in a while, once every 5, 10, or sometimes even 20 years. And so what that means is that most staff and board members haven’t been through multiple campaigns. Sometimes you haven’t been through a full campaign from start to finish or you haven’t been involved in the strategy. And so it’s really anxious-making because it’s many times more than you normally raise and you haven’t been through this experience before.

So let’s first start out with a quick poll. Steven, do you want to get the poll started? We’re going to ask, just find out where everybody is in your campaign. So are you just thinking about it? Are you in the feasibility study stage? Are you soliciting leadership-level gifts or are you in the public phase? So let’s . . . Oh, you know what, Steven, I think you launched all three polls at once. That’s all right.

Steven: Yes, I did. I’m sorry about that. I’m incompetent. I’m sorry.

Amy: All right. We’re going to get to the second one. So focus on the top one. Let’s just answer question number one for now. I’m going to make you answer question two and three later if, well, maybe Zoom will let us. Maybe it won’t. All right. Let’s just give everybody another 10 seconds or so just thinking about it, feasibility study stage, soliciting leadership-level gifts, or public phase. Okay. All right. So I don’t know. Do you share the results or do I announce them? I don’t know what people can see. But right now . . .

Steven: Let’s announce them, yeah.

Amy: All right. We’ve got about 23% just thinking about it, so just getting started. Twenty six percent in the feasibility study phase, so half of the people haven’t started raising money yet. Thirty-two percent soliciting leadership level gifts and 17% in the public phase. So that’s really fascinating in terms of you know, whether it will probably impact your decision, whether you’re going to stop, go or yield depending on where you are in the campaign, but maybe not. We’ll see.

All right. Let’s keep going and hopefully we’ll be able to launch the polls again later ups. Oh, we can . . . Okay. So we’re going to just close this here. Do you want me to do that, Steven? Do you do it? It’s giving me an option to share the results. Okay. So the bulk of people soliciting leadership-level gifts, but not by too much. All right. Oops. Okay. How do I close this? Here we go. Okay. So let’s keep going. All right. So this is what we’re going to talk about today. You know what? I think people in the comments are telling me that they had to answer all three polls. So we’ll see how that works out later.

All right. Capital campaigns. We’re going to go through some of the basics and then we’re going to talk about whether you should stop, yield, or full steam ahead. And we’re going to talk about board roles in your campaign, because honestly, I think that the board is often the ones putting on the brakes of a campaign or maybe cheering you on. So they play a really important role. I think more often than not, the board is nervous, and anxious, and sort of putting the brakes on a campaign. Every once in a while, I see board members saying, “We got to go. We got to go.” So that’s why I’ve included it here today because they play such an important role.

All right. So we’re going to get started with some capital campaign basics and just go through basics of a campaign and then we’ll get to whether you should stop, go, or put the brakes on. All right. So here’s a basic timeline of a campaign, but to me, so important. This really outlines campaign strategy. So if you don’t know how a campaign works or you’re not sure how a campaign works, it’s really critical to understand that there is a sequence, there’s an order, and why things happen when they happen. So let’s take a look at that.

Pre-campaign planning, you know, it takes anywhere from 3 months to 12 months, depending on how far along you are, how organized you are. So project plans you’re going to make in your pre-campaign planning. You’re going to figure out what your campaign objectives are. Of course, what are you raising money for? That’s what campaign objectives are. Your working goal, how much do you need to raise to pay for those campaign objectives? Your draft case for support, why should people give? And then your gift range chart, it shows you how many gifts you need at what levels in order to meet your goal. And your depth chart brings in who potentially can give those gifts that you need. So those are things that you’re going to want to have in that pre-campaign planning phase.

Now, Jim, I see you’re asking, “What if you don’t follow this order?” Listen, I’m not going to tell you that campaigns haven’t been successful not following this order, but they’re in this order for a reason. And so I guess, you know, certainly we’ve gone . . . you know, you might be a little further ahead and then go back and do something, but really, there is a method to this madness and maybe it’ll become clear as I explain each of the sequences or each of the steps here.

So feasibility study, that is when you test your plan that you made in that pre-campaign planning stage, you test the plan with your lead donors, you discuss your case for support and you get feedback, and you assess the giving potential or your ability to raise the money. So that’s a feasibility study. That’s a quick two, three-month process.

Campaign planning, right? You adjust your plan based on the feasibility study, what you heard from your lead donors. You revise your working goal based on the feedback you got, you finalize that case for support, and you develop your campaign plan.

Steven, feel free to give me a shout out. I’m not really watching the chat. I think there are some questions. If there’s anything I should stop for, do feel free to interrupt.

All right. The quiet phase. That is when you solicit the leadership-level gifts, you solicit your board members and you solicit your campaign volunteers. Now, campaigns work from the top-down and inside out. What we mean by that is that we start with the biggest gifts and from the gifts from the people closest to our organizations before we go public, before we solicit anything from the community.

So then we kick off our campaign. And I think, you know, going back to Jim’s question, this honestly is where lots of organizations, you know, go out of order or perhaps get it wrong. They go and they announce to the community and they solicit sort of general support for their campaign by soliciting through the mail, or through the phone, or on email or on social media and do a big press release. If you do this too early in your campaign, that’s when we often see campaigns stall or fail because . . . I’ll show you in a minute a gift range chart. You can’t make up a campaign with small gifts. Really, the way fundraising works, especially campaigns is that the big gifts, the lead gifts get you to 65%, 70%, 80% of your goal. And then you can go to the public.

So it’s not actually until here that you’re going to announce your goal formally, you know, up until this point, when you kick off and have a press release and a celebration of the gifts raised so far, you’re doing it in a quiet phase, which means you’re talking to individual donors about your plans and your goal and you’re soliciting the lead gifts, but it’s actually an opportunity before you’ve gone public, before you’ve made a campaign brochure that you have an opportunity to actually change your goal up or down.

If you’ve gotten every gift you’ve asked for so far, you may be able to expand the project and raise the goal. If you’re not getting the gifts you hope for, you have an opportunity to adjust the plans and revise the goal at this point.

Susan, I see you’re saying 65% before going public as much less than recommended to us. Yeah. That is a bare minimum. I mean, we generally recommend 75%, 80%, but it depends on the organization. So yes, as much as you can raise in that quiet phase, do it. If you can get to 80%, 90% the better. So we say 65-plus. We should have said 65-plus, plus, plus.

Okay. So now the public phase is soliciting the base, that’s the community, resoliciting the uncommitted and closing the gap to goal. So whatever you haven’t raised yet. All right. And finally, your post-campaign plan is when you celebrate, you express gratitude, you send your pledge reminders. You’re doing some of that backend paperwork.

So just really quickly, I wanted to do some campaign basics. So where will the money come from, right? I mean, that’s a big question that people have when they’re raising money and thinking about a campaign. So more than 50% of the money will come from your top 20 donors. So, yeah, when we’re talking about 65%, 75%, 80% comes from your top 20 to 30 donors. And if anybody is surprised by that, let me know.

All right. So I wanted to do a poll. Let’s see if we can relaunch the poll and see if that’ll work, otherwise we’ll just do it in the notes section here in the chat box.

Okay. All right. So let’s answer question number two. If it makes you answer them all again, I’m so sorry. So what’s your goal? Oh, maybe it is. Maybe . . .

Steven: Yeah. I think they’re required to answer all three, but . . .

Amy: Oh, okay. There is a way to do them separately, but that’s okay. All right. What’s your working goal? So under a million, 1 to 5 million, 5 to 10 million, over 10 million. All right. So let’s see here. We’ve got . . . And you know what? While you’re at it, just answer the third question, I guess many of you have. So what’s happening at your organization in terms of your fundraising is what I would have gotten to. So you’ve stopped your fundraising or your campaign, you’re proceeding with caution, I guess. You’re yielding or you’re all in. You’re a go.

All right. So let me share these poll results here. Last few people answering. All right. So let’s take a quick peek here. All right. What’s your working goal? So 28% are raising campaigns of under a million. The most of you, 30%, are raising $1 to $5 million campaigns, $5 to $10 million campaigns, 15%, and then 1/4 of you over $10 million.

All right. What’s happening at your organization? Nine percent of you are in a full stop of fundraising. Lots of you are being cautious and 45% are in a full go mode. Excellent. Okay.

Okay. So this is a gift range chart. I’ve mentioned it. For the bulk of you, you’re in campaigns, so you’re very familiar with this. But just in case you’re not, just two more minutes of basics and then we’re going to keep going. So this for a million dollar gift range chart, right? We need number of gifts, the number gifts that we need to raise, and the gift size, and I want to point out the number of prospects or potential prospective donors that we need. So if we need to raise a million dollars, our first gift we’re going to be looking for is somewhere between $200,000 and $250,000. We need two or maybe three prospects of gifts of that size to say with confidence that we can get that type of gift.

All right. So the leadership level gifts. Gifts to this particular campaign of 10,000 and above, we need 20 gifts. This is just $1 million campaign, so it’s on the small end. Of course, you can add zeros and the same concepts apply. So we just need 20 gifts to get to 70% of our goal, 700,000. And we’ve done that with 50 prospects. So 50 people, we identified to give those 20 leadership-level gifts, and they’re going to get us to 70% of our goal. So those are my campaign basics.

So this is the campaign formula, right? Twenty gifts gets you to 70% of your goal, more or less with 50 prospects. So, in general, campaigns are not about the masses, although at the end of our campaign we want to invite everybody to participate. We invite the community to get involved, but really, campaigns succeed or fail based on those first 20 gifts.

All right. So who makes those gifts, right? Those people who have the ability to give, they believe in your mission, they have contact with your organization, right? Those are the ABCs of donor identification. And so these are individuals, foundations, corporations, people who are already giving to you, right? These are not new people. They’re major donors in the community. Some a few big gifts may come from people who haven’t been so involved in your organization up until this point, but they’re philanthropists in the community and they like to help. They see one of their roles as helping organizations get to the next level. So sometimes you can attract philanthropists in your community who haven’t been so engaged in your organization. Hopefully, they are aware of the good work you’re doing. And then current and former board members.

All right. So now we’re going to get to the heart of the conversation that we’re going to have today, and it’s whether you should stop, yield, or full steam ahead and how you’re going to proceed. Okay. So this was the last poll, which we won’t do because I think we already saw the results. A little less than half of you are going. A few of you are stopping fundraising and most of you are proceeding with caution. And I think that that’s good. You know, honestly, we’re recommending go. It should probably not be a surprise to you.

So your nonprofit needs money now, right? Everybody’s in crisis mode. No matter what type of organization you are, I can’t think of one that doesn’t need more money right now. Whether you’re providing more programs and services or you are closed and your revenue has decreased or stopped, you need to raise more money now. So, you know, so I’d love to see in the chat box if you want to just put in, you know, if your programs and services have expanded due to COVID, right?

We’ve seen animal shelters, they have a tremendous need right now. It’s not just healthcare or food. And tell us what kind of organization you’re with too, Stephanie. You know, lots of people felt like, “Oh, it’s just healthcare and food organizations, food banks.” But it’s not true. There’s all types of organizations that have significant need right now. Foundation supporting a community college, right? The need for scholarship just escalated. Direct services and it’s go time, right? Let’s see. A school, they need more money for COVID issues because they have to separate people, all sorts of all sorts of needs right now.

Okay. So I just wanted to reiterate that capital campaign formula. So you’re going to be talking to your leadership-level donors. That in part is how you’re going to determine whether you stop, yield, or go because it’s 20 people, or 50 people, between 20 and 50 people who are going to determine whether your campaign can succeed. And so it’s time to go out, no matter what stage of the campaign you’re in and go revisit the donors, especially the ones who haven’t given yet. I mean, but you also need to go out and talk to your donors who’ve made pledges because this pandemic may affect their ability to make that pledge.

Now, the reality is that the donor class, and I’m going to make a vast generalization here, but the donor class, the people making gifts of $10,000 or $50,000 and above are the least likely to be impacted financially by this pandemic. And so the donors who are making those huge gifts right now are probably, and it’s not always true, but probably not that financially impacted. And I know there’s exceptions to every rule and I’m sure some somebody’s going to come and be upset with me about that. But many, many donors can still give.

So, you know, traditionally you do a feasibility study prior to a campaign to test the chances of success. So I want to just talk about that because about one-third of you listening have not gotten started yet, maybe it was a little bit more than that. But I do think it’s an opportunity right now, if you haven’t already, to go out and talk to your leadership level donors and see what they’re thinking and feeling about your campaign during this time. Now, you know, of course, they’re always going to be skittish board members and we need to give them confidence that people are giving and that actually, I think now more than ever, it’s time to raise money because your needs expanded exponentially. We can see that in the comments.

All right. So how can we test our chances of success? So traditionally the way to test whether or not you could do a campaign of a certain level was to have a consultant-led feasibility study, and that’s when you hire an outside consultant to confidentially interview your biggest and best potential prospective donors for your campaign.

Now, there are two other ways that I want to mention because I think they’re really important ways. So the next way is do it yourself interviews. So if your organization either doesn’t want to pay for an outside consultant or has been burned by an outside consultant before, or for whatever reason, doesn’t want an outsider to talk to your biggest and best donors, some organizations are opting for do-it-yourself interviews.

We’ve come to the conclusion that there is a perfect hybrid of the first two ways, and that is something that we’re calling a guided feasibility study and that is where the leadership at your organization, you, the executive director, the development director, the board chair, the campaign chair, if you have selected one yet, go out and do the interviews, but that you’re guided and you’re advised by a campaign consultant or a campaign expert so that you are asking the right questions, you’re analyzing the answers appropriately, that they can help you figure out how much you can raise as a result of what you learned in the interviews because if you haven’t done this before or you haven’t done it much it can be an overwhelming process. And so we think for a whole variety of reasons that campaign leaders should be doing their own conversations with donors as opposed to sending in an outsider to do them.

The main reason to hire a consultant at this point to do them honestly, is if there’s nobody at your organization who’s willing or able to do them because it is extremely time-consuming. However, that being said, if you’re really seriously going into a campaign, it is really beneficial and it’s part of cultivation and engagement to send out your leadership team at your organization to go talk to your biggest and best prospects because they’re going to be able to get the feedback from people that they’re talking to and react appropriately.

When a consultant confidentially is interviewing people, a report gets back sort of compiled and you may or may not get back to the specific donors about their specific concerns. So we think it’s much more beneficial to go out and do the interviews yourself but with some guidance because there is a process. There is a process and you want to be sure that you’re asking the right questions and really listening to the feedback so that you can assess as well as possible. So anyways.

All right. Capacity or capital campaign. So, listen, this whole pandemic has raised the question of do organizations need buildings in the same way that they have in the past and will they in the future, right? I mean, a lot of you that were thinking about doing buildings are probably on pause right now because it’s hard to say when the next time we’ll be having 100 people in a room, or 50 people in a room, or 10 people in a room. And so will people be going back to buildings in the same way? So there’s capital campaigns, which don’t always have buildings associated with them they often do. But we think that this moment in time is the perfect opportunity to have a capacity campaign, and that may or may not include elements of a building or renovations. But every single organization needs capacity funding right now.

So I’m going to say that, in general, we are strongly, strongly recommending that you go with some form of capacity campaign because this is a unique moment in time where the need is through the roof and everybody’s case for support just got strengthened. I mean, honestly, that’s what the pandemic did. It made your case for support significantly stronger, and you probably have more need for funding now than ever before.

And the reality is that so many boards and executive directors are going to put the brakes on fundraising that those of you that are brave enough to go full force ahead are going to have much, in my opinion, you know, easier time and have smoother sailing because your case is so strong right now. And, honestly, the playing field is clearing because there are so many nonprofits that are not going to make it, they’re not going to be willing to fundraise. They’re going to be timid. They’re not going to be brave. And so for those of you that are ready and bold, I think that it’s an amazing opportunity for you to move ahead.

All right. So that’s sort of my, I don’t know. My rant. All right. So you may need to adjust your campaign plans and that’s okay. That actually is something that people have to do in good times and bad. And so there are opportunities throughout your campaign to adjust and tweak. So one opportunity is to adjust the goal. And I know that when I was showing the timeline, I showed you that up until you go public, up until you’ve raised 65%, 75%, 85% of your dollars, you haven’t done a press release. You haven’t created a fancy campaign brochure. Everything is in the quiet phase and you don’t . . . we use the words working goal in campaigns up until the public phase when we’ve done a big public announcement.

So until you’ve raised 70%, 80% of your goal or the money, you can adjust the goal and say, “Listen. We either are way ahead of where we thought we’d be so we can expand the goal, expand the project, or, you know what? Some of those big gifts that we were hoping for didn’t come in. And so we’re going to have to, at this point, scale back the project. And the goal that we’re going to announce is going to be a goal that we’re going to get to, but it’s going to be lower than what we had been hoping for, and that we had been working with.” So there’s an opportunity to adjust the goal. So in terms of pandemic, I say full steam ahead and then you can reassess and reevaluate throughout your campaign.

The second thing that you can adjust is the timeline. So you may say, “Listen, we don’t want to scale back the project, and we don’t want to scale back the goal, but what we’re going to do is extend the timeline. And instead of three-year pledges, we’re going to accept five-year pledges, or we’re going to be raising money for a longer period of time.” So both of those are things that happen, whether we’re in a pandemic or not, but it’s really reassuring to know that there’s wiggle room on every campaign and you know what? These are some campaign secrets that all consultants know and they use them to their advantage to, at the end of the day, have successful campaigns.

No campaign consultant wants to go out and say, “Oh, yeah, we had a failed campaign.” Or they didn’t get to their goal. So up until the very end, they’re using a working goal. And then they say, “Okay. Now that we know that the leadership level gifts have come in, now this is the official goal that we’re announcing that we feel very confident we can get to and exceed.”

All right. So some alternatives that you might want to consider in a pandemic or not, or, you know, in regular times. I was actually talking to somebody yesterday about a campaign and she said she has to raise $3 million and she hadn’t explored the opportunity or the possibility of borrowing money, right? She hadn’t even found out from the bank what she could take out and with mortgage, with interest rates so low these days, it is an option that you may want to consider in order to get the construction done and in order to get the plan finished because if you are able to take out $1 million and then you only have to raise $2 million, it’s a perfectly legitimate campaign strategy that lots of organizations employ. So I just wanted to sort of throw it out there just in case you hadn’t thought about it.

All right. And then, of course, we’re going to create A, B, and C plans. And you should have these pandemic or no pandemic. So, A, really is about what will you do if you raise everything you need and more. So you get to your goal, you exceed your goal, what is your dream, dream project? B is what will you do if you raise most of what’s needed? You know, you don’t get to do everything in your plans. You have to scale back a little bit. What is that B plan? And then, C, what will happen if you don’t raise the money.

So, I mean, some of these things determine how you proceed, whether, you know, you go full speed ahead or you’re a little bit cautious, but having these plans gives everybody confidence and you can go around with your C plan and say, “This is what we don’t want to happen. Like this is unacceptable, so we have to raise the money because if we don’t raise the money, this is what’s going to happen.” And that, for donors, you know, obviously, we want to inspire them with A first, but we also say like, “This is what we’re protecting against. This is why it’s so critical that we raise these funds.”

All right. So listen, at the end of the day, I’m going to say full steam ahead, go. Like I said before, there’s never been a greater need than there is right now for nonprofit organizations to raise money. Your campaign, your case, your case for support just got so much stronger because the pandemic and I really don’t care what field you’re in, I can’t think of a single type of nonprofit that’s case didn’t get stronger for the need, whatever it is, whether you’re in arts, or education, or the environment, or social services, or whatever it is, anything. Healthcare, your need just got stronger. And so I would say full-steam ahead. People want to help. People are being generous, and, you know, like I said before, unfortunately, the playing field’s clearer. I think the people that are going full-steam ahead are going to have an easier time because lots of nonprofits are not going to be in it.

Okay. I want to wrap up before we get to questions. Just for a few minutes, I want to talk about board roles in your campaign, because I do think often, it’s board members who are nervous and anxious and putting the brakes on your campaign. So I just want to talk about what some of the different board roles are so that you can provide reassurance and training and move people in that direction.

All right. So what role will the board play? We’re going to just look really quickly at the board as a whole and then individual board members. So the full board approves three things, right? The campaign objectives, what are you going to raise money for? What’s the plan? The campaign goal is the dollar amount. And then the campaign . . . Oh, did I say the campaign plan? Like, what are you going to raise . . . So objectives. So objectives are what you’re going to raise money for. Sorry. I had a brain freeze because my dog is barking and I can’t think. That’s the fun of working from home with everybody home. And then the campaign plan is how are you going to get to those objectives? How are you going to raise the money? What’s the budget? What’s the timeline? Who’s on the committee? What are the campaign policies? So that’s what’s in your campaign plan. So you’ll want board approval on those three things before you proceed.

Roles for individual board members as opposed to the board as a whole. So they’re going to hopefully serve on campaign committees, not every board member, but some board members, we want doing that. Of course, we want every single board member contributing to the campaign financially and with their time, we want them to help identify prospective donors for the campaign, we want them to help cultivate prospective donors, of course and then, of course, we want them to help solicit gifts. So those are roles for individual board members.

Now, every single board member must make a gift. They have to be on board, literally, figuratively, financially in order to proceed, which is why they need to vote for the campaign objectives, the campaign goal, and the campaign plan as a full board. But really, the full board participation sends this strong message, right? About the campaign.

So once you have every board member contributing . . . now, I didn’t say a specific dollar amount. We just want a significant and meaningful gift, which we’ll get to in just a second from each board member. Sorry, I keep moving my Q&A box around so that I can see the slides.

All right. Every board member should give as generously as possible to the campaign. That’s the campaign goal. And campaign gifts should be over and above their normal annual gift. So those are sort of the parameters for board member giving. We don’t want to say that every single board member must give a certain specific amount because obviously not every board member is equal. In fact, we want board members giving those leadership-level gifts, and we expect that they will, and other board members, that’s not within the realm of possibility.

And so what’s really critical is that every board member give as generously as possible and that their gift is over and above their annual gift. And that’s actually what we say to every single campaign donor, is that we want to make sure that every single campaign donor is giving over and above their annual gift, that their campaign gift is a special onetime gift that we hope that they’ll continue to give their annual gifts so that we can keep our operations and programs running while we do this special onetime project.

All right. So, you know, board roles, cheerleader, advocate, public speaker, donor, solicitor, committee member, leader, networker, host, volunteer, so lots of roles for board members. I think sometimes board members put on the breaks with the campaign because they are unfamiliar with them, they don’t know what’s expected of them. And so, by clarifying some of these roles, and they don’t have to play every role, they can play some of them. But they do need to be excited about the campaign, they need to be on board, literally, figuratively, and financially in order for the project to move forward slowly. Slowly, I don’t know why I said that. Successfully. You know, the last thing you want is a board member, you know, whispering around the community that this campaign is not a good idea. So if they’re not on board, maybe it’s time for that board member to step down from your board and play a different role at your organization.

All right. So I know we have lots of questions that have been coming in, so I want to wrap up but hopefully we covered capital campaign basics for those of you that needed them or they’re good reminders to see the strategy and the timeline laid out. Stop, yield, or full steam ahead? I would say full steam ahead. Listen, you may be pausing your building campaign but you may be full steam ahead on more capacity aspects or emergency fundraising. We’re encouraging people to have special campaigns because everybody’s needs are through the roof right now. So full-steam ahead. And then we covered some brief board roles in your campaigns.

So I just want to tell you very quickly and then we’ll go to questions, my organization is the Capital Campaign Toolkit. It’s a virtual step-by-step system with online tools and remote expert guidance to help you lead a successful campaign, sort of the tagline, but more importantly, if you’re interested, you can go over to the Capital Campaign Toolkit website. You can sign up for a free strategy session if you want to talk about the specific needs or questions that you have regarding your campaign and whether you should stop, yield, or proceed. We’ll be happy to talk to you.

So right on the homepage, you can sign up for a strategy session and just have a one-on-one 30 minutes with me or one of my partners to see what the details are of your campaign and what’s holding you back or you can pick up a step-by-step guide on the timeline that I showed.

So, okay, Steven, do you want me to just read through the questions? Do you want to interrupt for any reason? You want me to plow ahead?

Steven: Yes. To all of that. I just wanted to apologize for the poll fiasco. Sorry about that. That was totally my bad. You’d think after six months of using Zoom, I would have figured that out but . . .

Amy: No worries. No worries. We got the answers we were looking for, I think. So it’s totally fine.

Steven: Yeah. Go for it. You see the questions there. It looks like there’s a lot of good ones, but I’ll kind of let you pull out what you think makes sense if you want.

Amy: All right. That sounds good. All right. So Elizabeth says, “How do you balance raising campaign gifts with meeting annual needs when you have limited donors? This year we are struggling with operations, but also need to start raising leadership gifts for the new building.”

So I started to mention what the strategy is and every organization . . . you know, I don’t know what you mean by limited number of donors, but every organization has a limited number of donors. And honestly, with a campaign, as you saw, it really is between 20 and 50 donors who make or break your campaign, whether you have a successful campaign or not. So it’s not going to all your donors, it’s going to your top and your closest donors and saying that you need their annual gift as you always have in order to continue your programs and services and now you have a special onetime ask.

Now, one of the reasons that capital campaigns were probably called capital campaigns in the first place, capital can either refer to buildings or capital in terms of money and assets. And so lots of times people make capital campaign gifts with assets as opposed to cash flow. So the vast majority of your annual fund donors are probably thinking with their checkbook and their cash flow and when you approach them for a capital gift, you can expand their thoughts to assets, whether it’s stock, or life insurance, or real estate, or planned gifts, or property, or other types of gifts, often when organizations when donors are making really significant campaign gifts, it’s coming out of a different pool of assets as opposed to just cash flow.

But you always do what we call a double ask. You say, “Okay. You’ve normally been giving a thousand dollars a year, so we’re here to ask you to consider a gift over the next three years of $15,000, so $5,000 a year. The $1,000 you give will continue to go to support our annual fund and $4,000 a year will go towards the capital needs or the capacity needs.” It doesn’t have to be capital. You know, you could be raising money for programs and services now, as many organizations are so that additional money will go towards the building or the project.

So Lois is asking, “If you go out and get a low interest loan to finance construction, then how do you get donors excited about paying off the loan? Isn’t it usual that once something’s built, people are not motivated?” Yes, absolutely. So what you want to do is use the loan often, if possible, as a bridge loan. So you raise all the money and get pledges before the building goes up, but you still need to pay the construction people. And so, once you get the pledges, the money will come in from pledges in three to five years after you’ve gotten the commitments and use the loan and then the pledge payments pay back the loan. Hopefully, that makes sense.

All right. So somebody . . . Let’s see. Joe says, “Please expand on examples of capacity.” Okay. So we believe that every nonprofit needs capacity right now, and capacity means your ability to provide more programs and services to serve more people. And so an example of somebody’s increased capacity right now would be a soup kitchen or a food bank. They’re not necessarily going to expand their facility, but they are serving 30% more people. So they need to hire more staff, they need to buy more food, they need to manage more volunteers. They need to . . . you know, maybe they have a satellite location that they’re distributing from. Maybe they need a truck to deliver. So those are some examples of capacity that would expand where you don’t necessarily expand your building or your facility, but that you have significant capacity needs.

Another example for an educational institution is that students need significantly more equipment. They need computers or internet access to study from home that the schools might be providing. They need a lot more safety equipment, so they might need plexiglass dividers or cleaning supplies. Some students are going to need a lot more scholarships. So that is capacity so that . . . Oh, I didn’t even mention that the teachers, of course, also need computers to work from home and different programs, and cleaning supplies, and safety supplies. So you could do a capacity campaign around that. So to provide your programs and services in a more effective, efficient way or expand them.

Jim says, “Board members have approved the three bullets, but have not supported the campaign with their dollars or lists suggestions.” Yeah. So, Jim, I think it’s all about how you ask board members. And so I was talking to somebody the other day and she said that her board chair was ready to send a letter to board members, asking for their campaign gifts. And I said, “No, no, no. You are not asking your board members either in a group setting, so not at a meeting and not by letter or email.”

These are one-on-one meetings, hopefully with the campaign chair or the board chair to talk to them about the importance and significance of leading by example and setting the tone for the campaign. And so I know now we’re not meeting with people in person, but we are meeting with people over Zoom. And this is a one-on one-conversation. And if somebody says that they’re not participating in the campaign, you can ask them if they think it’s appropriate for them to be serving on the board at this time and talk about, you know, what a better role for them at your organization might be.

All right. So let’s see. Jess, “For the initial leader gift segment, what types of resources should be available to our committee to bring to their conversations? If the brochure comes later, what should we provide to help make an effective case?” Great question, Jess. So, first of all, you are going to have a case for support that you developed way early on prior to the feasibility study and that was refined after the feasibility study feedback, but that can just be a Word document that you bring in a folder with all sorts of information.

You can bring a folder with a list of committee members, and board members, and campaign plans, and the case for support, but it doesn’t have to be something that’s shiny, or fore color, or highly produced, or printed. Just run them out of your printer each time you go talk to a donor.

All right. Let’s see. Chris says, “If our top 20 donors have never given anywhere near the amounts needed for the 70%, does that mean our campaign goal is too high?” So, Chris, that is a maybe. So my first question always would be, have you ever asked those 20 donors for more or did they just decide what to give based on a letter they receive each year? Or have you actually sat down with them and asked them for major gifts? So that’s one thing.

Two, have you done a wealth screening? So do you have any idea if they have the capability or capacity to give significantly bigger gifts, do you know what they give to other organizations in the community or what their philanthropy is like? So just because they’ve never given to your organization in big amounts before doesn’t mean that they don’t have the capacity or can’t do it. And so no, I have no idea if your campaign goal is too high. I would say, have you done a feasibility study yet? And if not, come and talk to me, sign up for a strategy session on the Capital Campaign Toolkit website, and we’ll talk about what does a feasibility study look like. Because that’s where you learn if you’re in the right ballpark with your goal.

All right. Susan, “We’re a cultural art center with a performing arts theater . . . ” Let’s see. “Our building is old and needs some repairs. Without the repairs we may not be able to continue. We have commitments for about half our goal. How should we proceed?” So I think what you’re telling me is that your campaign has stalled. But I’m not totally sure, but I think that’s what I’m reading.

So, you know, a couple of things, I have no idea if you’ve exhausted all your prospects, you know, if you’re using donor data like, you know, a donor database, like Bloomerang, I don’t know if you’re using Bloomerang, but you’ll be able to pull up lists of your biggest and best prospects by using their, you know, reports and bells and whistles, and their wealth screening through . . . I think they use DonorSearch. And so I don’t know if you’ve explored all your options. I don’t know how many people you’ve asked. And there are always strategies to close the gap on a campaign by going back to donors who gave early, by going back to the donors who didn’t commit yet. So I think there’s lots to talk about, and we’d be happy to talk to you about how to reignite your campaign.

All right. So Andrew, “Do I see the market fluctuations playing a role in affecting the donor class?” I mean, of course, you know, some donors are going to be more skittish now. Other donors are finding this as a perfect opportunity to help. And the reality is that some people have made a ton of money during this pandemic. I mean, you can think of some of the organizations that have made a ton of money and the individuals connected with those organizations that have become even wealthier during this pandemic. So anybody making cleaning supplies, anybody making booze, anybody making backyard trampolines have been sold out for months. I mean, now I’m just being silly, but honestly, you know, there’s plenty of stocks that are sky high. They may have gone down for a few minutes, but they’re not down now.

And I think you have to talk to each of your donors individually to see how they’re feeling and how they’re doing. You know, if you have donors that are in the restaurant industry, maybe they’re not doing well, maybe they’ve pivoted and their, you know, their takeout business is booming. So you just . . . I think it’s industry by industry and you don’t know what’s in somebody’s portfolio. And so you’re going to need to talk to them about if they’re interested in still able to participate in a campaign in a big way.

All right. Let’s see. Steven, we have more room for one more, I guess. There are so many questions. You know what?

Steven: Another good one.

Amy: I’m always happy to answer them on my blog, or if somebody wants to email me, I’m happy to answer questions and talk to people afterwards. But let’s end with Lisa’s question about virtual donor meetings. I think, you know, clearly, we’re having virtual donor meetings, and what I would say about them is that I have seen so many people raise bigger gifts than they’ve ever raised before in virtual meetings. So don’t let that, not being able to not meet in person, stop you. Set up a Zoom meeting, or a Skype, or a FaceTime. I almost set a Facebook. Whatever it is, ask your donor how they video-chat with their kids and grandkids so they don’t have to learn a new technology and let them know that you’d love to see them, you know, over the video chat.

And so have those same conversation, ask them how they’re doing, what’s going on, how their lives have changed during this pandemic, if they’re doing okay, and then talk to them about what’s important to them and how they’d like to be involved and help. And I think that you can proceed with your virtual, you know, donor meetings virtually. I actually think they’re so effective and efficient. You don’t have to drive anywhere. And so you can have more than one in a day. So I say, go for it. All right. I have run out of time. So thank you so much for having me, Steven.

Steven: I love it. This is awesome. What you said about the buildings just stopped me in my track. That’s such a good consideration. I was just loving listening to all of this. Thank you, Amy. Always real generous with her time. She’s been a great friend to us at Bloomerang, so really appreciate it. And it was nice to see a full room too for such a specific topic. So I hope you all got something out of it. And I’m looking at the chat here, it looks like people are loving it, Amy. So thank you. Thank you.

We’re going to send out the slides and the recording. I’ll get those out this afternoon. Scout’s honor. So we’ll get all that good stuff to you. And we got some great webinars coming up next week. We got three webinars next week, starting on Tuesday at 1:00 p.m. Eastern how to build your email newsletter list. Oh, yeah, it’s a good one. I don’t think we’ve ever covered this topic, specifically this topic and in eight years. So join us. That’s going to be a good one. We’re going to talk about things to do on your website, your forms, lead capture, all those cool things. It’s going to be a good one. And we got lots of other webinars. Just visit our webinar page.

There’s something for everybody. Honestly, we’ve been scheduling smart folks like Amy, full steam ahead, to use her words. So we love it. So we’d love to see you again on another session. They’re all free. They’re all educational. We’d love to see you again. So look for an email from me with all the goodies from today’s session. I’ll get that out to you and hopefully we’ll see you again next week. So have a good rest of your Thursday. Have a good weekend. Stay safe, stay healthy, please. We all need you out in the world. So be careful out there. We’re all thinking of you. And we’ll talk to you again soon. Bye now.

Kristen Hay

Kristen Hay

Marketing Manager at Bloomerang
Kristen Hay is the Marketing Manager at Bloomerang. From 2018 - 2020, she served as the Director of Communications for the Public Relations Society of America's local Hoosier chapter. Prior to that she served on several different committees and in committee chair roles.