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December 3, 2021
Key Indicators of a Strong Nonprofit Fundraising Campaign
By Robin L. Cabral

Robin Cabral
Robin L. Cabral
To plan and successfully conduct a strong fundraising campaign—be it for capital improvements, an endowment fund, or annual giving—you need to know the hallmarks of success before you launch it.

Here's what is needed to ensure your next fundraising campaign’s success:

A Dedicated Steering Group to Plan and Execute the Effort

This core team is critical for ensuring there are enough people capable of and willing to solicit donations. From this group, strong campaign leadership will emerge in the form of campaign chairs.

A campaign chair (or co-chairs) is someone intimately familiar with the organization who knows its history, its needs, and people connected inside and outside the organization. The campaign chair is part strategist, part coach, and part cheerleader. The chair is a relentlessly optimistic person who is happy to educate all concerned, as much as required, on the need for the campaign.

A Case for Support

This provides the rationale for the campaign and will shape all related messaging and communications. It's a succinct statement that outlines how the need evolved, how it supports the organization's mission, and how it will help supporters achieve their goals.

A Hard Start and End Date for the Campaign

Establishing and promoting these key dates signals to steering committee members and key constituencies that the campaign has a definite life cycle. This creates momentum and lets all concerned know that they can expect to hear a lot about the campaign during the specified timeframe. It also helps prospective donors plan their gift.

A Written Plan

This serves as a road map for the campaign. It details the goals, purpose, and particulars of the campaign. It includes a calendar of events, a media plan, and key messages, and outlines timing and gifts needed.

It also includes a gift range chart, which identifies the number of gifts needed at specific levels to reach the campaign's fundraising goal. It should clearly state if you want 100% board participation (always a good idea).

An Established Database of Prospects

This is a list of prospective donors that the steering committee identifies as being capable of making the gifts indicated in the gift range chart. Good record keeping from earlier fundraising efforts play a critical role here, as it identifies those who have given before and at what level.

This database lets the steering committee realistically identify potential campaign supporters, including those who may be willing step up the level of their giving. It also identifies which prospective donors warrant in-person solicitations and who will reach out to them.

A Cadre of Willing and Supportive Ambassadors

These are people who are close to your cause who can champion it on many different levels, providing influence and connections. They should also serve as "social media ambassadors," sharing their social media pages with friends, family, and other interested individuals.

Events that Build Cultivation and Solicitation Moments into the Campaign

Among other actions, these moments encompass recruitment, fundraising, or thank-you events. Steering committee members should be willing to reach out to new attendees at events and find out what they thought about the event and if they see themselves getting more involved or interested in learning more.

A Donor Stewardship Program

This component reaches out to all the donors who supported the fundraising campaign and helps set the stage for the next campaign. It may include updates on the recent campaign's success and impact, as well as invitations to post-campaign events such as face-to-face meetings, a director’s update, and other appropriate donor recognition opportunities.

If you lack any of the above elements, you may want to consider how you can shore up the missing components and create a really strong campaign that meets goals AND your mission.

Robin Cabral, principal of Development Consulting Solutions, is a certified fundraising executive who works with mid-sized nonprofits to build capacity and improve fundraising results. Email her at or call 508-685-8899.
July 2019
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