So, your campaign ends with great success. Your effort raised millions, meaning you can address your organization’s pressing needs. You mark the achievement with a donor/volunteer appreciation party, say goodbye to your fundraising counsel, close the door on the capital campaign and wait for the pledge payments to arrive.
Scenarios like this play out in the nonprofit community all the time thanks to generous benefactors and dedicated volunteers. But while the sacrifice of donors and the efforts of the campaign team eventually translate into completed projects or funded programs, the fundraising should not end with the conclusion of the active solicitation phase.
St. Peter Chanel Catholic Church in Roswell, Georgia, is a thriving parish with more than 3,000 households. It is a relatively young faith community. Founded in 1998, the parish completed construction on the main church 10 years later. As parishioners began to enjoy their new faith home, a difficult reality set in — they did not account for the entire $22 million price tag. Something had to be done.
To tackle the problem, parish leadership hired the Steier Group to conduct back-to-back debt reduction campaigns. Two successful efforts allowed St. Peter Chanel to pay its debt and begin replenishing its savings.
With both campaigns, at the end of the active phase, leadership refused to stop raising funds. A follow-up team of volunteers continued of reaching out for additional support. For Hugh Hayman, a general chair who coordinated the follow-up efforts, success came through numbers, as in a select group of volunteers.
“Pick your top performers from the main campaign,” Hayman said. “Make it a small group and don’t have more than four or five. Be disciplined too. You need to meet every 60 days. Get your list and make your calls.”
For Hayman the follow-up work paid handsome dividends. In two years, his team added more than $900,000 to the campaign total.
“Those guys, my team, were really troopers; they never stopped,” Hayman said. “We could see evidence of success — 12, 15, 18 new pledges. We were bringing in $15,000 – $30,000 each month. That kept us going.”
The former banking consultant also credits his monthly reports as a motivating factor.
“Our key was the fact that we had an effective reporting system,” Hayman said. “It showed our pledge total, what we collected, the support from new parishioners. We’d see the numbers and realize our success. It motivated us seeing people make gifts.”
The group did not pester or harass their audience. Along with reminders in the bulletin or at the pulpit to support the effort, prospects received a gift request letter and a pledge card. The parish allowed a grace period of four to five months before requesting support from new parishioners.
“Monsignor Rau wrote in the letter to expect a call from the follow-up team,” Hayman said. “We’d meet the Wednesday before mailing the letters, get our list of 40-50 families and follow this drill: call twice, leave a message if needed; call 2-3 days later; email 2-3 days after. Then we left them alone.”
They produced a phone script to help with calls and an email message. The team received few return calls — maybe one out of 10 calls — but the process, the letter, the calls and the emails, proved successful.
“Our pledge redemption is at 92% and we paid the debt last October,” Hayman said. “Now pledges are replenishing our savings and we are over $500,000 in replenished savings.”
If you have any questions about follow-up fundraising or would like to discuss a capital campaign, please contact me. You can also visit our website at steiergroup.com.