Food for Thought

by Susan Bottum, Principal

It’s dark when you drive to work and dark when you drive home.  The temperature is hovering around zero (on a good day) and there is snow on the ground.  Sad, discarded Christmas trees wait by the side of the road.  Yes, it is January in Chicago!  Time to put down our collective heads and plan for the year ahead.

Perhaps you are considering a campaign in 2015.  If so, the idea may be overwhelming.  Last week, my colleague George wrote about setting goals for the new year.  He recommended starting by taking small steps – setting an overarching goal and breaking that down into specific actions – so you do not get overwhelmed and you can begin to see progress.  You can take the same approach with a campaign.

Indiana University School of Philanthropy highlights “Twenty Critical Success Factors” for a capital campaign.     Take a look at this list; chances are, your organization is more prepared than you think.  That said, this list will also help provide a framework to help you prepare now and ensure you are ready when the time comes.

And speaking of campaigns, please “SAVE THE DATE” for Tuesday March 10, when we will conduct our next non-profit seminar.  The topic?  Capital Campaign Readiness, of course!

Happy New Year.

“Twenty Critical Success Factors” for a capital campaign. 

1 The organization’s leader has been on the staff for a minimum of 24 months and is clearly respected by his/her peers, Board members and donors
2 The Board is up to the full complement of membership as allowed in the by-laws
3 The organization is on solid financial footing with prospective major donors
4 The organization has a minimum of 3-5 months of reserves built into its’ financial portfolio
5 The organization’s existence is solid, viable and clearly articulated to its’ prospective donors
6 There is wholehearted agreement between the staff and the Board regarding the worthiness of the project – and both are willing to work together to bring the project to fruition
7 The project meets a valid need
8 The case for the project has emotional and dramatic appeal and the need is urgent, relevant and compelling
9 The organization has successfully met its’ annual support objective in the past two years and has a strong degree of support from a large number of constituents
10 The organization has had stable, consistent and strong leadership in the Development operation
11 In the past two years, the organization has operated within a balanced budget
12 The organization has prepared a carefully developed pro forma budget and has projected that, when the project is completed, it will generate sufficient income to help make it self-supporting – or – there will be funds from another source to offset expenses
13 The organization’s database is managed to its’ best ability, with clear, concise and accurate information and strong leadership
14 The Board is able to give individually and corporately (if a personal or family-owned company) 30-35% of the overall campaign goal
15 The organization is able to identify the 20 major gifts that will produce 40% of the project goal
16 The organization is able to identify and list the 300 sources that are most likely to provide the largest gifts for the project.  The Board is able and willing to make introductions and serve as advocates for the project
17 During the past 12 months, the organization has maintained a written plan to actively cultivate the top 200 sources – and significant contact has been made with each at least twice during this time
18 On the Board, there is one person of sufficient strength, stature, influence and affluence and he/she will be a desirable candidate to chair the campaign
19 The organization is able to identify someone of sufficient strength, stature, influence and affluence who would be willing to accept the Honorary or Co-Chair role for the campaign
20 The organization will be able to recruit sufficient volunteers to mount a successful campaign effort
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