Better Together?

| by Shannon Williams

In planning for a capital campaign, the question often comes up—should we combine our annual, capital, and planned giving efforts into one comprehensive campaign, counting all three efforts into one total goal? There is not a one-size-fits-all answer to this question, but there are factors to consider.

Will this bold goal elevate the sights of our donors?

A comprehensive campaign has the potential to elevate your entire giving platform by inviting your constituents into a transformational effort for your organization with a goal that demonstrates that this is not business as usual.  A bold goal can help your donors understand that your vision requires the full alignment of all your resources for a period of time.

Is our donor base well-positioned to consider planned gifts to our organization through this campaign?

A combined campaign makes it possible for donors at a wide range of giving levels to invest in the transformation, welcoming both current and deferred gifts into the campaign. Deferred gifts can be vitally important, especially in growing your endowment. Often donors are not positioned to make the ultimate gifts they aspire to with cash assets alone. The ability to combine cash assets with deferred assets can lead to a larger commitment on both sides of this equation. It also propels the donor to document a planned gift that may be hoped for, but not defined without the urgency of a transformational campaign.

What is our bandwidth to execute personal solicitations?

A comprehensive campaign is donor-centric, giving the donor the opportunity to make a single commitment to the institution that encompasses regular annual support, a special campaign investment, and a planned gift into one, instead of three separate commitments stemming from three separate solicitations. While this is true, the approach necessitates a conversation with the donor to explain why the vision requires a special investment. You cannot simply send a direct mail piece and expect donors to understand a comprehensive campaign. You must have enough campaign volunteers and staff to facilitate personal solicitations with the majority of your donors. Otherwise, donors will not understand what you are asking them to do, often defaulting to their regular annual gift amount instead of a special investment.

If you do not have the hands on deck (volunteers and staff) to execute personal visits with the majority of your donors, you may be better off to keep your annual, capital, and planned giving efforts separate. You can still facilitate combined solicitation with the donors that you visit personally, but the greater community of donors who simply receive direct mail or email will still see them as separate giving opportunities.

As you consider whether to combine annual, capital, and planned giving into one comprehensive campaign, consider the strength and maturity of your annual campaign donor base, the potential benefits of a bold goal, the capacity for significant planned gifts that you may not capture formally otherwise, and the bandwidth of your solicitation team. As you look of these areas, you will see whether a comprehensive effort is right for your next campaign. Still not sure? Ask us. We can help.

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