The confetti has been swept up, the banners have been taken down, and your best volunteers and donors have resumed their normal lives—that’s right, your campaign is now public! Congratulations! But now what? The months and years following a campaign launch are some of the hardest for advancement teams. The excitement of going public is behind you, and the finish feels like a lifetime away. There are several strategies for maintaining fundraising momentum and keeping your campaign moving forward aggressively.
Most campaigns involve a very small cadre of volunteers during the nucleus/planning phase. Whether you called it a campaign steering committee, kitchen cabinet, or task force, that intimate group has been vitally important in getting you this far. Now that the campaign is public, it is time to share that work with a much larger army of advocates.
Utilizing a cascading volunteer structure that represents the full breadth and depth of your organization will allow those groups to own the public phase, following the example of the campaign’s steering committee. These more diverse and disparate groups can make the campaign message local, can spark momentum through leading by example, and can represent different schools or practice areas within your organization. It is incredibly important that these groups are recruited, trained, empowered, and supported to work on your behalf.
Like so many multi-year projects, a campaign can easily fall into the trap of lapsed communication. The urgency created by the launch has been lost and may lay dormant until the conclusion of the campaign. Creating and living by a set schedule of meetings and communications will keep the campaign on top of mind for volunteers and staff alike. It forces the institution to focus on effectively communicating status and milestones. It keeps external audiences intellectually engaged when everything in their daily life is trying to get them to forget about the campaign.
Many institutions have found that bringing volunteers back for on-site meetings twice annually can help keep momentum. You may think that technology negates the need for such on-site meetings, but the opportunity to reconnect volunteers with the institution in person cannot be overstated. Technology can and should be used as a medium for communication in between meetings, but it can’t take the place getting volunteers back to touch, feel, and see that which they are working so hard to support.
Modern campaigns come with campaign goals which are equal parts inspiring and daunting. Allowing yourself, your team, or your volunteers to focus solely on the campaign goal is setting your campaign up for stalled momentum. It also robs everyone of the joy brought by celebrating small victories along the way. During the public phase, it is vital to find every opportunity to celebrate success. Campaigns offer myriad opportunities to celebrate: the first recipient of a new scholarship endowment; hitting 100% campaign participation for a volunteer group; reaching annual participation or fundraising goals; or the recruitment of a stellar faculty member.
These celebrations shouldn’t be limited to your donors and volunteers, however. Remember that the day-in and day-out grind of a campaign wears on your team, so be sure to find ways to recognize their successes. This will boost morale and increase retention; two key ingredients for campaign success.
Campaigns have evolved into multi-year entities, not because we want to count gifts for as long as we can, but because each phase of the campaign comes with its own steps and tasks. Using the steps outlined above can help turn the challenges of maintaining fundraising momentum into the discipline of effective execution. Contact us today to learn more and to build long-term fundraising growth. Together, we transform philanthropy.