Friday, April 15, 2011

The Kind of Campaign We Need

The kind of campaign more institutions should be running is much different from the campaigns we have been running for many years. This new campaign would:

-not be framed or announced in terms of dollar goals but mission goals;

-have evolved those goals from soul-searching, participative discussions with current and prospective donors who shared the institution’s core values;

-not speak to how the institution would benefit but how the funds secured would benefit those the institution serves;

-have created means and mechanisms, including the creative and selective use of volunteers, to ensure those services were delivered cost-efficiently;

-make clear it would persist in the pursuit of those service goals over time because this would not be about getting a certain amount of money within a certain amount of time but about fulfilling a mission no matter what;

-demonstrate where cuts had been made or how costs had been contained to ensure clarity of mission and reassure donors that their contributions would add strategic value and advance core purposes;

-be nested in a 10-year plan to demonstrate a commitment to continuity of purpose; and

-seek to achieve the highest degree of participation from its external and internal stakeholders to ensure that the mission was widely understood and deeply held.

When times were good and lots of folks had growing financial reserves, you could get away with a “comprehensive campaign,” which was all-too-often a roll-up of internally generated wish lists. Now the times call for something more purpose-driven and service-oriented. Even in difficult or uncertain times, many people will give generously if a philanthropy-seeking organization shows them precisely where and how they can make a significant and lasting difference.

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