The fundraising blitz


Full disclosure, I played football.  More specifically, I was a defense lineman.  As a member of the defense, my favorite play was the blitz.  For those unfamiliar with the game, a blitz is a play where the defense send all their resources in pursuit of the quarterback.  The reason I liked this play so much was that for a brief moment, it united the defense with a singular focus.  This same idea has been appropriated by non-profits in recent years and is showing some strong results.  In non-profits, the Fundraising Blitz works in this way:

  • It is a community-wide effort.  The fundraising blitz’s success is tied to the ownership within the community.
  • It takes place over a short period of time usually 24-48 hours.
  • Social Media is key.  Technology is central to successful blitz campaigns.  Also, volunteers need to be engaged to help spread the word and drive support.
  • Rallying cry – There is a clear and compelling theme that answers (or at least leads to an answer of)the questions, “Why? and Why now?”.

The blitz is gaining traction in the higher education segment for good reason.  This segment typically has a large alumni base, or a group who identifies with the institution though perhaps not philanthropically.  In a recent Chronicle of Philanthropy article, Several successful fundraising campaigns are profiled.  According to the article the most successful blitz drives have a few elements in common: a date that has special meaning for alumni, a promotional buildup veiled in mystery, a cadre of connected volunteer fundraisers, and a few matching gifts organized ahead of time.  This last bit is key, fundraisers say: Small donors may feel their contributions can have more impact with the match.

The blitz in fundraising, like in football, is a way to galvanize a group for a singular purpose for a short period of time.  It’s success is predicated on, strong  lead planning (typically 6 months or more), involving volunteers, making this a community effort, and delivering the right message at the right time.  The blitz has not only been used at Universities but is central to the success of recent efforts such as Giving Tuesday.  The blitz is an idea whose time may have come.  The question is, is it right for your organization?  If so, as we say in football, “It is time to blitz!”


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