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Avoiding Capital Campaign Follow-Up Disaster: 5 Essentials

Avoiding Capital Campaign Follow-Up Disaster: 5 Essentials

Don’t let this sad story happen to your organization:

Organization X spent more than four years planning and executing a capital campaign. The money raised enabled them to purchase a plot of land and build a new facility for their organization. The campaign was successful, exceeding its goal by nearly half a million dollars.

That’s the happy part of the story. But what happened next is all too common (and totally preventable):

Within 6 months of the completion of the campaign, the development director and the campaign manager had moved on to other organizations and without them, the longer term follow-up with the donors who had made the campaign successful became lackadaisical. Pledge payments did not come in as anticipated because the finance department sent out invoices to collect pledges rather than taking a more personal approach. No one paid close attention when a pledge payment was late.

In the flurry of work that went into finishing the building and moving into the new facility, the executive director didn’t have time to focus on donor relationships. And the new staff members that were finally brought on didn’t find a campaign report that would help them maintain the major gift energy that had blossomed during the campaign.

As with all types of fundraising campaigns and events, handling final logistics, following up with donors, and generally closing the loop are essential. And the repercussions of ineffective or nonexistent capital campaign follow-up can be especially disastrous—late or missing pledge payments that derail the funded project, damaged donor relationships, reduced future fundraising power, frustrated staff, and more.

We don’t want to harp on the negative, but we do want to emphasize the importance of campaign follow-up. To keep this story from happening to your organization, here are five essential things to keep in mind when following up on your campaign.

1: Your campaign is not really over until the last pledge payment has been paid. 

Once the campaign is over, you should make sure that you have a sound system by which you are collecting pledges. 

One person should take the lead on pledge redemption. That person should schedule, draft, and manage reminders, monitor each donor’s balance, track the arrival of installments, keep an eye on late (or missing) installments, and alert others when a pledge seems to be in jeopardy.

2: Recognize and celebrate everyone who made the campaign possible. 

All too often, the staff recognizes the donors, but no one stops to reflect on and appreciate the monumental job the staff and campaign volunteers have done. 

You might appreciate the staff with a special gathering. And consider a bonus or trip to their favorite spa or even some time off. Appreciating staff may help keep them from leaving as happened with our friends in the story above.

3: Prepare a final campaign report. 

A campaign report will document the campaign fully. It will provide an opportunity to analyze what happened in the campaign and provide an important record for the future. The report should contain:

  • A brief description of the campaign including a statement of the campaign objectives and what the campaign was for
  • A list of campaign volunteers and the roles they served
  • A list of board members who served during the campaign
  • A list of all key staff members who worked on the campaign
  • An analysis of campaign gifts
  • Campaign expenses
  • Photos of campaign events and samples of materials used for the campaign
  • A section that summarizes key themes and lessons learned

4: Create a stewardship report for the broader community.

It would be a pity to have raised all that money and not let all of your constituents know of your success. A stewardship report is a great way to do that. 

You can create it as a separate standalone piece or you can combine it with your organization’s annual report. In either case, you will use it to reinforce the success of your campaign and the difference the campaign will make for the services you provide in the community.

Be sure to include a report of the funds raised and lists of everyone involved, including volunteers, board members, donors, and staff. You should sprinkle photos of key moments in the fundraising and construction process throughout the report. Make it as engaging and meaningful as possible.

5: Have a donor outreach plan.

Finally, with the campaign complete, you absolutely must develop a plan for staying in touch with the people who made significant gifts to the campaign. Keep it organized and use the right tools, just like you did to track and collect pledges.

In the cautionary tale at the beginning of this post, those relationships weren’t built on or actively stewarded after the campaign as they should be. This damages relationships, leaves a terrible impression, and makes future donations much less likely.

To be sure that doesn’t happen, make a list of every donor who gave a major or lead gift to the campaign. Assign a staff member to manage that relationship going forward and develop an intentional plan for communicating with them and further engaging them in the life of your organization.

After the huge effort of a capital campaign, it’s tempting to simply heave a sigh of relief once you reach your goal. But your campaign has taken your organization and your development program to a whole new level, and the five strategies listed above will ensure that the work of the campaign will make a long-term positive difference to your ongoing fundraising.

Board Member’s Guide to Capital Campaign Fundraising

If you’re on the board of an organization that’s considering a capital campaign, there are things you need to know. This guide will help you understand your own role, and that of the entire board, during a campaign. Download this free guide today!

Using the Paybee Fundraising Fundraising Platform

For the best ways to follow up with Capital Campaign as well as various other types of fundraising campaigns, use Paybee’s nonprofit fundraising software - it has everything you need to make your follow up a breeze!

Need to know more? Or could you use some expert help to get you started? No problem! Give us a call today and our friendly team will be more than happy to help with any queries and get you started on the right track to hosting and managing your charity auction.

Don’t forget, Paybee also offers unique features specially designed for live in-person, virtual, and hybrid events. We can help with all types of events by offering help and advice with everything from payments to ticket management and so much more. Sign up for a free demo and you’ll also have the chance to participate in a mock virtual auction and chat with PayBee experts about the online tools the PayBee system offers and our pricing options. This is an excellent chance to see how well your nonprofit meshes with PayBee’s software and support staff, and you’ll be able to see how intuitive our platform is for your staff and guests to use.

So, what are you waiting for? Sign up for a free demo today or give our friendly, helpful team a call and let’s get your silent auction and fundraising events off to a great start, together.

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Andrea Kihlstedt

Andrea Kihlstedt is a Co-Founder of the Capital Campaign Pro. She is the author of Capital Campaigns: Strategies that Work, now in its 4th edition, as well as How to Raise $1 Million (or More) in 10 Bite Sized Steps, in addition to other books. Andrea has been leading successful capital campaigns for more than 30 years. To learn how Capital Campaign Pro can support you through a capital campaign, visit capitalcampaignpro.com.

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