Former clients often have a confession: They never imagined conducting a capital campaign would take so much time and effort. These same clients originally wondered whether they could run their campaigns without outside counsel.
I’m routinely asked why organizations should incur the cost of hiring an organization, such as the Steier Group, to run their campaigns. I typically answer their question with a few of my own:
- Does your organization have a staff member who can devote 100 percent of his or her time to the campaign for the next six months (or longer)? Our campaign managers typically devote up to 60 hours per week on their one campaign (this does not include the time spent by our graphic designers, grant writers and support staff). We have found it is critical that one person be responsible for the progress of a campaign, rather than many sharing this task.
- Does your organization have someone on staff who has led a campaign? Experience counts. Your organization might have people who are willing to lead a campaign but do they have experience and the expertise? Have they led a donor evaluation meeting? Have they trained volunteers how to best ask a prospect to make a gift? Do they know the key components of a case statement?
These questions lead to conversation about the roles our campaign managers fill when serving a client. Here are just a few:
- Leading feasibility studies and serving as neutral sources for conducting interviews with prospective donors regarding the project.
- Assisting with volunteer recruitment, training and retention.
- Leading donor evaluation sessions to determine what to ask each prospect and who is best to make the request.
Then, I point out some of the benefits – based on the campaigns we have led – that result from hiring outside counsel:
- Campaigns run by professional consultants raise more money.
- Donors feel more satisfied at the end of professionally run campaigns.
- Our campaign managers bring not only their experience to your project but also the experiences of their colleagues. Solutions lead to success.
Finally, I encourage prospective clients to do their homework. Contact leaders of organizations who have conducted capital campaigns. Ask whether they thought they could have conducted their campaign on their own. You’ll likely have your answer.