In a campaign, you can rethink your philanthropic enterprise, take calculated risk, and reach further than you have ever been able to go. Done well, campaigns go far beyond the bottom line, leaving you positioned for stronger and sustainable philanthropy. Our team can bring expertise, insights, and best-practices from multiple sectors to the table, creating the most effective model.
Campaigns succeed on a solid track of principal and major gifts. That will always be true. However, how you achieve this success requires not just great prospects – but ambitious talent, effective use of data, thoughtful and strategic business plans, and the careful integration of a spectrum of fundraising programs.
The why and how of campaigns is changing. We are at the forefront of this change. The continually maturing community of successful fundraising organizations and experienced fundraisers are defining new needs and priorities. Data and analytics are fully integrated from the outset and metrics are providing waypoints for adjusting the strategy to achieve optimal results. We have evolved our approach to campaign feasibility, strategy, and management in recognition that our clients need a new kind of partnership: one that values the achievements already in hand, maximizes your existing data, joins you where you need us most, understands the differentiators within your sector, and brings the added value of an outside expert perspective.
Our campaign services include:
Our campaign feasibility and planning service begins with an internal readiness assessment, which consists of the following:
Immersion in strategic, master, program, and financial plans in order to both understand campaign goals and their impact on the organization; and to also prepare ourselves for discovery interviews (if that is the route we ultimately take). We take particular care to understand your diversity, equity, and inclusion plans and initiatives.
Formation of an ad hoc planning committee (optional) to guide early planning and discovery and to be a sounding board for ideas and assumptions (beginning in this phase and convening periodically throughout the study). Often members of this ad hoc committee become members of the eventual campaign committee when you are ready to shift from planning to implementation.
Examination of a five-year baseline to understand data trends that have contributed to fundraising and prior campaign success, new donor acquisition, donor retention, gaps in programming, and to create assumptions that form a springboard for looking ahead to a campaign. This deep analysis examines results from four important angles: audience contributing, gift levels being realized, effort resulting in dollars, and purpose of dollars. From this baseline, we also look at return on investment and cost per dollar raised.
Building of a data-driven prospect model that scaffolds over what you see as your foundational capacity data and extends it to a useful model that blends giving behaviors and patterns (loyalty and gift levels), engagement (where useful), assignment, and moves management to assess capacity and identify various types of campaign prospects. This model, in turn, informs a gift table and other tools necessary to guide early campaign planning.
Formation of a staff-to-opportunity analysis that combines prospect opportunity with an understanding of each job function on your team such that we can build a staff investment plan that may be required to optimize success in a campaign.
Engagement of organizational leaders and volunteer stakeholders through one-to-one interviews to help us understand how they engage, when they engage, whether they are advocates for fundraising and whether they have what they need from the development team to succeed. Further, this engagement allows us to learn their perceptions of the fundraising program from their vantage point.
Support for the development of a campaign pitch book that can be shared and tested in the external discovery phase. This pitch book is an informal, yet polished, piece that places funding priorities within the context of overall school strength.
Identification of prospects and/or influencers for external discovery. We want to be active partners in the selection of interviewees so that we can test a campaign model from varying perspectives (potential top donors, support from leaders that will serve as examples to the larger donor community, loyal donors who may not yet be giving to their potential, community leaders or influencers, donors supporting other area nonprofits, etc.). This includes preparing the interview questions and sharing feedback that will be useful in either a traditional or guided interview approach.
Following the assessment, we enter the external discovery phase, during which we focus on conducting interviews with an appropriate number of prospects to determine their level of endorsement and enthusiasm for your organization and the proposed campaign, their likelihood of giving, their likely level of giving, and their likelihood of volunteering leadership. Increasingly, our clients are trending away from conducting traditional feasibility studies; in recognition of this, we offer a few options. Development Guild will prepare staff and potentially volunteers to engage in a guided set of interviews. In this case, we will prepare interviewers for their role through a training session and the development of materials to present and capture interview learning and outcomes. For a guided approach to provide the most useful information, it is important that we use a shared framework and have a strategic survey tool for capturing the essence of conversations. Alternatively, we offer the option of a hybrid approach to discovery wherein Development Guild conducts some interviews, and our client conducts some of the interviews.
In the final phase, we deliver our findings and campaign recommendations regarding the goal, case for support, proposed timeline, volunteer and staff structures, interview summaries, and evaluation of conditions needed for success.
The vast majority of our campaign planning clients remain with the firm throughout the full life cycle of their campaign endeavor, as a deep partner during launch and early implementation and ebbing back as you build the momentum and capacity to take on most aspects of the campaign implementation yourselves.
During the early stage of implementation, we are moving from recommendations to a full campaign work plan, and simultaneously to solicitation of lead donors, onboarding of campaign volunteers, putting recommended practices in place, establishing metrics to track progress, and addressing other conditions for success. From there, we partner with you to move your campaign to a more public form, through to celebration and post-campaign plans.
Following implementation, our role shifts to management and is designed to provide breadth and depth to existing counsel. This may include resident counsel; often it replaces a staff role during recruitment or leave, or while building to a degree of success and momentum that supports staff investment. We are also able to augment campaign counsel to address other pressing roles; for example, to oversee the annual fund for a period of time.
Whether it is your first or your next campaign, whether you need to raise $25 million, $100 million or even $1 billion – we step up when you need us most and step back as you build momentum and success.
In preparing for our $137M capital campaign, we were seeking a consultant who would help us question all our assumptions—and then keep us on track with the right solutions. Development Guild did just that. They were with us for every step of the campaign and shared in our celebration when we achieved our most ambitious goals.
- George Maley, Chief Advancement Officer
Our Board has greatly enjoyed partnering with Development Guild on our feasibility study. They bring a deep knowledge to the table and have been extremely helpful in educating us on philanthropic best practices. Their team keeps us well informed and is highly communicative. It’s been a very positive experience.
- Aileen Montour, President