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Lessons learned from raising $3 billion

By March 19, 2024June 27th, 2024Steier Tips

Watch the video above for a short message from our CEO, Matt Vuorela.

When Jim Steier founded the Steier Group in the attic of the Steier family home in 1997, the idea of helping nonprofits raise $3 billion seemed unfathomable. And yet, in early 2024, the Steier Group surpassed the $3 billion milestone.

This achievement is a testament to the hard-working campaign managers, management team and support staff of the Steier Group, but, more importantly, to our incredible partners. From pastors and bishops to donors and volunteers, each campaign would not be a success without the work of communities across North America. It is concrete evidence of the power of community, prayer, stewardship and the continued strength of faith communities.

While it is fun to take a step back and celebrate a milestone like raising $3 billion, other metrics are more valuable to us. How did every one of those dollars impact and strengthen the people served by our clients? That’s more important to us at the Steier Group. It is humbling to think of all of the lives changed by those funds raised, whether it’s scholarships for students in need, a new church, innovative school STEM labs, etc.

The Steier Group has learned a lot on this journey to $3 billion. Here are a few items to consider in your fundraising and campaign plans:

Your people are most important. Even the best laid campaign plan won’t find success without the people of your community coming together in a united mission. From the top down, it is important for your staff to engage with donors, volunteers and the entire community. Don’t be afraid to reach out to invite members of your community to participate. During our 26+ years, we’ve found that donors are more likely to support when asked directly by a member of the community. And the same goes for recruiting volunteers. What is more likely to inspire someone to volunteer their time, talent or treasure – a phone call from the pastor or a form letter?

Tell your story. At the Steier Group, we work with amazing nonprofits all across the United States and Canada. It provides us a front row seat to the incredible work happening in churches, schools, dioceses and other nonprofits. You all make an impact in the daily lives of so many people. And it can be human nature to want to be humble and not share the work you are doing. But, by doing so, you are doing a disservice to those you serve. Donors want to support organizations where they can see the value of their donation. So, make sure to share your story and share it often. Show the impact a donation has on your community. Do donated funds help the poor? Show that in action through video, photos and testimonials. Did a campaign lead to additional school scholarships? Track how those students do as a group and share it with the community. There are many great stories – big and small – waiting to be told in your community.

Set achievable goals. The early stages of a campaign planning study and capital campaign are a time of incredible excitement and nerves. The future path is laid out in front of you and all that’s left to do is actually start your journey. It can be easy to get caught up in the excitement and emotion of the future. A comprehensive campaign planning study tests your goals, speaks with your donors and supporters, gauges the level of support in your community and sets a realistic fundraising range. For us at the Steier Group, there is nothing worse than a campaign that is a big home run of a success that feels like a failure to the community because they aimed for a World Series winning grand slam instead.

Celebrate your successes. Tied directly into the points above is taking the chance to celebrate all of your fundraising successes. Tiered goals are a great way of doing this – hold a celebration for every tier you reach. Or celebrate every project that you can complete due to fundraising. We have seen some creative celebrations at the Steier Group – from the Parish of St. Benedict in Phoenix setting up a rope outline of the new church and providing tours to the bringing ground ceremony of St. Catherine of Siena in Wichita, Kansas. Get creative and have fun!

We thank all of you who have trusted the Steier Group to conduct a capital campaign for you. We have grown and learned as a company thanks to all of the wonderful people we have had the pleasure of meeting and working alongside.