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Tuesday, January 16, 2018

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Three tips for campaign success
Joyce Penland, CFRE

March, 2013

Studying trends in capital campaigns will help nonprofits plan their strategies accordingly and make sound decisions about what elements to include, what staffing challenges need to be faced, and what goals should be set. 


1.)                  Consider a comprehensive campaign approach


More and more nonprofits are considering comprehensive campaigns that include building projects, annual funds and endowment fundraising.  Rolling those elements into one focused campaign allows the organization to articulate its needs more concisely and to succinctly communicate the multi-pronged approach to donors and prospects, without additional appeals for funds.  This can help address the “donor fatigue” syndrome that plagues so many charities who commence campaigns shortly after the close of another.  As campaign goals become larger and the time between them lessens, the comprehensive campaign may be a worthwhile consideration for many groups.


2.)                 Staffing up focuses on the future


A capital campaign provides an excellent opportunity to build the organization’s future development program.  For most development directors, a campaign is intense, concentrated fundraising,  and is very different from running a development program that generally focuses on annual giving and special events.  Staff members are frequently so intent on their daily tasks that they cannot take on the additional essential work of campaign management. 


Adding a major gift officer, a grant writer, and a data manager are common moves by small development operations.  “Staffing up” is essential in order to address all of the elements of good campaign strategy: 


           Creating case statements and preparing attractive and compelling materials;

           Conducting training for board members and campaign volunteers;

           Managing these volunteers and coaching them to make their “asks”; and

           Establishing reporting structures to track campaign gifts and maintain efficient and effective timelines. 


The size and scope of the capital campaign will dictate how many staff members need to be hired.  This is generally the time to assess whether fundraising counsel should be brought on to partner with the development director and volunteers to help close the staffing gap.




3.)                 Rule of thirds still resonates


According to a recent AFP’s “hot topics” white paper, the traditional "Rule of Thirds" is still a realistic way to set campaign goals.  Fundraising guru Harold J."Sy" Seymour outlined the Rule of Thirds in his classic book, Designs for Fund-Raising. 


The Rule of Thirds states: A campaign is likely to reach its goal if the largest gift equals 10% or more of the goal and it, along with the next nine gifts, total one-third of the goal…AND the next 90 gifts equal one-third of the goal.  If these first two-thirds of the campaign are achieved in this way, it is most likely that the final one-third of the goal can be raised from all other gifts.


Stay tuned for more capital campaign trends and let us know what challenges YOU are facing that our team of capital campaign experts at Bacon Lee & Associates can help you solve.  Contact us today at


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