Welcome to Part 1 of the Fundraising for Large Campaigns blog series. In this series we will share best practices from your peers who have been successful with large fundraising campaigns.
The first phase in a large fundraiser – such as a capital campaign – is planning. In this article, we assume that you have already have buy-in from key stakeholders in your school and established a budget, as these are requirements for getting a “green light” for this kind of undertaking.
You should begin by identifying past successful campaigns. You can learn a lot from similar campaign. For example, if you’re doing a fundraiser for new bleachers, reach out to the person who was involved with fundraising for a new scoreboard. If you do not have access to someone who who as run a similar campaign at your school, find another person who has run any large campaign at your school. Also, reach out to your network and identify peers at other schools that share their experiences. Speaking to people who know the ropes can give you insights to be more effective and avoid pitfalls.
As you learn about previous large fundraisers at your school, be sure to create a list of past donors. Ideally other successful campaigns can provide you with a complete list of previous donors (if you’re a Classmunity district, this can be accomplished easily in the Dashboard), but at a minimum they should be able to identify their large donors. Also, review your own past fundraisers and compile a list of donors that have given to you in the past. This allows you to avoid reinventing the wheel by starting your fundraiser with a list of community members who are known to support your school.
You should also identify tools you are going to use for managing fundraisers. There are many web-based tools that can simplify fundraising management. It can be helpful by starting with a list of activities that you need to manage. Some things questions you might ask yourself include:
- How will we spread the word?
- How are we going to accept credit cards?
- Will we sell products? Collect donations? Sell tickets?
- What kind of web presence do I need?
- How will I coordinate efforts between various supporters?
- How will my team communicate?
- How will I track funds raised?
- How will I communicate progress with the community and stakeholders?
There are no one right answer to these questions. If your district uses Classmunity, we provide you with tools to help all of these needs. You can also use a combination of software tools, or even some paper-based communication to assist you. The most important thing is that before you launch your campaign you can answer all of these questions.
You should also develop your fundraising roadmap. Often large fundraising campaigns last several months or more, and it is important to have identify your major fundraising events as well as target milestones. This will help you stay on track and provide you with an early warning if you’re not raising funds as anticipated. It also can be useful when you set targets for your fundraising team.
At this phase, it is important to stay in communication with key stakeholders about your decisions. This includes both administrators and faculty within your school as well as parent groups and community members with an interest in your fundraiser’s success. Your stakeholders want to offer you support, so staying in regular communication about your progress and needs makes it easier for them to help you.
Stay tuned for next week’s post Fundraising for Large Campaigns: Phase 2 – Developing Materials!