“Hello Mr. Cleaver! How are you this evening.”
“This is Adam, calling on behalf of the endangered Hemiptera species. We are conducting a campaign to help protect this endangered species from impending harm. Mr Cleaver, let me get you involved with a donation of just twenty-five hundred dollars or thirty-five hundred dollars. We need your support. Which amount works best for you?”
“Uh, endangered Hemiptera?”
“Yes sir. They desperately need our help.”
Hardly a week goes by where I do not receive a plea for donations. By phone, by mail and by personal contact. Most of the organizations are well-intentioned. However, I have an onset of DFS (Donor Fatigue Syndrome).
I met with someone yesterday who was looking to network with successful business people to raise funds for a capital campaign project for a para-church ministry. And I thought about all of the current commitments our family makes to a wide variety of charitable organizations as well as our church. I really had no desire to add yet another cause to this list of commitments.
And there was a lack of awareness as to how to present the case for such a capital campaign. I knew nothing about this organization. Nothing about its vision. Nothing about its impact. In short, this was yet another Hemiptera fundraising call.
I did share a few learnings with this person about the common pitfalls of capital campaigns.
Poor calendar planning. A good capital stewardship campaign is well planned. Events, activities, and communications must be arranged for the maximum potential effect.
Inadequate or poor communication. Even the most committed people require clear, concise information to make a decision about a capital campaign. Well-produced, excellent-looking communication materials are a must. And the information must be disseminated multiple times in different ways to reach the maximum number of people.
Short time frame. A farmer would not plant seed this week and expect to harvest a crop next week. In the same way, a capital campaign requires several months to grow in its commitment. Information, inspiration, encouragement, and people involvement are important aspects of the process.
Not enough people involvement. People need to take ownership of a campaign. The single best way to accomplish ownership is through involvement in the campaign.
Inadequate major gifts emphasis. Money is not raised mathematically, it is raised proportionally.
The other learning is what took place yesterday. A random encounter based on a third-party relationship. A cold call without context. Another endangered Hemiptera. Rarely succeeds.