Every campaign begins with the question, “How much can be raised to fund our project?”
The answer is not always straightforward. To gain understanding on the potential campaign’s success and impact, we must ask more questions.
Our team facilitates a discovery process that we call campaign clarity. Our analysis has two main elements:
- External feasibility — What do donors and other stakeholders think in terms of perceptions and willingness to give?
- Internal readiness — Does the organization have the people, processes, and systems needed to be successful?
We dive in to understand the organization’s current state by conducting interviews, facilitating surveys, reviewing documents, analyzing financials, and asking probing questions to get at the heart of the organization’s why — why it exists, what is the vision, who is served, who is the leadership, what needs are to be meet, and how raising funds through a campaign will have an impact on the people and places the organization serves?
The campaign may be raising funds for construction, renovation, or purchase of a building; program needs; cash reserves; endowment funds; specialized equipment; or general operating support.
The campaign may be funded by $10,000 or by $10,000,000 but regardless of the amount, the donor wants to understand the impact their support will have. For our team to understand what resonates with donors we have to invest in clarity.
We have had some potential clients suggest less time should be spent in clarity. Their perception is, “There’s no time to waste, let’s get on with fundraising.” However, if we rushed through clarity, the strategy would be based on assumptions and generalizations — and that is of benefit to neither the client nor our team. Before we strategize and plan, we have to study.
We often share the following quote from author Hank Rosso to explain the importance of clarity to campaigns:
“What happens before capital fundraising starts is the most important part of the work. Questioning, measuring, qualifying, verifying, listening to hard answers to hard questions, and weighing judgments expressed by potential key volunteer leaders and potential key contributors are all parts of strategic market testing. This process is called the feasibility study or the precampaign planning study. In straightforward terms, it is a thorough examination of the institution’s readiness to ask and the constituent’s preparedness and willingness to give—and if appropriate, to serve as a volunteer committee leader or member.”
For our team to provide the best counsel, we have to ask the questions that lead to increased understanding to create the best strategic recommendations. And that always starts with clarity.
Article by: Kerri Laubenthal Mollard, Founder & CEO