I am always encouraging social justice organizations or policy groups to consider doing fundraising campaigns as so many other categories of nonprofits do. Prior to any organization or program undertaking a special purpose, capital or endowment campaign, there are several ‘readiness’ components to assess. Before one starts, have the leadership ask the following; Have you developed or updated your strategic plan within the last three years? Is the plan reviewed at least quarterly? Are objectives specific and measurable?
Do you have an integrated development program (special events, phone, direct mail, foundation grants, corporate appeal, etc.)? Is there a stewardship program (donor education, engagement, celebration, etc) in place? Is there a planned giving program in place?
Do you have a marketing plan developed or updated in the past three years? Do your public relations efforts result in increased donations, volunteers, and clients?
Have you recently done a market study to evaluate community needs? Do you have a limited amount of competition for your programs? Have you assessed the competition for your programs and when possible, collaborated with other nonprofits to deliver programs?
Have you done client satisfaction studies or focus groups of leaders who are experts on your mission? Have you considered the needs of your consumers in developing the plans for the campaign?
Do you have an organizational video and/or brochures? Do you regularly publish an annual report, newsletter and press releases? Have you gone through a branding process? Do you communicate regularly with donors?
Do you have a list of major donors capable of making a gift of 10% of the campaign goal? Do you do adequate research on donor prospects to identify gift potential? Have you done research to identify the interests of your top donors?
Have you considered the budget, costs, projections and evaluated special purpose, capital or endowment needs?
Have you started your case statement and has it been reviewed by various audiences? (NOTE: For a fabulous course on this area, see Secrets of Making a Very Compelling Case by Elizabeth Seja Min).
Each of the above listed elements prepare the organization to (1) answer every prospective donor/investor question, (2) give staff and board members the tools they need to engage in donor solicitation and (3) create story-telling content that describes a passionate and high-achieving organization. When your organization can answer yes to most of these questions, you can join the thousands of institutions of higher education or faith based organizations that are perpetually in a campaign mode!