Friday, June 26, 2015

What makes a successful campaign?

I recently had a conversation with a colleague who works at another institution who is getting a masters in fundraising from Columbia and needed to discuss annual giving approaches and programs. She asked me a series of questions about the who, what, where and why of how we approach raising money and ended with the title question of this post; "What makes a successful campaign?"

My most immediate response was "money."  Fortunately for me, I actually thought before I responded and realized that is the most measurable aspect of it so we tend to use that as the yard stick.  How many gifts.  How many attendees.  How many submissions to the contest.  But I think that we need to step back about 3 steps and identify what is the goal of the program.  Are you charged with a dollar goal?  Assuming so, as I don't know anyone in fundraising who is not, clearly that is one aspect of the effort.  But what other responsibilities do you have?  Most institutions rely upon the annual giving office to start the giving pipeline - very few million dollar donors start with a six figure gift.  Most start with a two figure gift.  Many of us have participation goals - often, and unfortunately, tied to US News participation rates.

Each of those goals requires, above all else, the involvement of constituents.  So that is success.  Making a gift, sending in a class or alumni note, attending an event, declining to attend an event, sharing a facebook status, retweeting your tweet, any interaction is success if it builds towards a deeper and stronger relationship.