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Capital Campaigns in Challenging Times

Smart Moves in Turbulent Times


Raising Friends

Tip 1: Communicate often. Keep it brief and personal.
  • Handwritten notes and correspondence.
  • Thank you calls from board members and senior staff.
  • Personalized reports on how their gift was used and what was accomplished.
  • And, of course, newsletters, press clippings, articles, notices of media coverage.
Tip 2: Offer opportunities to:
  • Join a special, targeted working group.
  • Attend a small, invitation-only talk, tour, class, rehearsal, opening...
  • Be a member of an action-oriented advisory/affinity group.
Tip 3: Follow Up.
  • Timing is critical. After events, tours, and special gatherings, call the next day to arrange a meeting or phone conversation.
  • Ask questions about their take on the event they attended or the material they read.
  • Encourage frank comments and solicit ideas for improvement.
  • Ask them to pitch in and make something happen incorporating their good ideas, if appropriate.
  • Send information and arrange meetings they asked for right after you talk.
  • Be professional, polite, and engaging, but be persistent.

Raising Money…The Smart Way

Tip 1: Identify and analyze your competition. Then…
  • Sharpen your story. Separate your organization from the pack.
  • Dramatize your special strengths and accomplishments.
  • Be specific about actions and outcomes.
Tip 2: Strive for perfection.
  • Thank donors within 48 hours.
  • Update donor records immediately.
  • Regularly check the internet and newspapers for career promotions, charitable donations, board memberships, and obituaries.
  • Don't settle for letter/newsletter relationships. Ensure personal contact with major donors and prospects a minimum of twice a year - calls, events, private meetings, tours, briefings.
  • Don't settle for reworking last year's letters and proposals.
  • Proofread.
Tip 3: Shine the Spotlight.
  • How are your programs different or unique?
  • What is exciting right now?
  • Do you connect to the news? Do you have a story hook?
  • How will recent program breakthroughs open future possibilities for your community or program participants?
  • Which constituencies, which people matter to your work? Link their interests to your news.

Firing Up Your Board

Tip 1: Make It Stick.
  • Before presenting prospects for election, be certain they fully understand and accept the financial and other requirements.
  • Facilitate a lively discussion of board responsibilities and expectations. Formally adopt a statement. Ask board members to sign it. Review the statement every two or three years.
  • Lead by example. First, the board chair and the officers must give generously. And then, personally ask the other members for their annual and event gifts.
Tip 2: Facilitate Effectiveness.
  • Train and coach. Hold at least one solicitation training a year. Ask experienced members to help train. Provide solicitation strategy and coaching, as requested, before every phone and in-person solicitation.
  • Provide outstanding staff support to volunteers — letters, donor/prospect histories and research, appeal notes and mailings, talking points, and reminders.
Tip 3: Get them to attend meetings.
  • Send materials well in advance.
  • Have a program participant or staff member present at every meeting.
  • Call everyone two or three days in advance to confirm attendance. Email a reminder the day of the meeting.
Tip 4: Build a working team.
  • Pair new board members with enthusiastic, productive veterans.
  • Put every trustee to work on a committee or task force that can use their particular skills, expertise, and interests. Assign issues and tasks that are challenging and vital.
  • Define milestones and work products. Set high standards of performance.
  • Never stop saying thank you individually, and publicly recognizing the team's work.

Visit the Washburn Carmichael website regularly for more tips.

Send us your questions. We just might have a hot tip that will help.

Send us your tips, too. info@washburncarmichael.com We will pass them along.

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