Capital campaigns are remarkable undertakings that require extraordinary effort from those involved, including the fundraising professionals who design and implement the campaign, as well as the organization’s professional staff, donors, and volunteers. This article outlines the steps involved in campaign report meetings for a large, membership based organization. In this type of campaign, a handful of volunteer solicitors and the top staff people solicit the first 50-100 gifts that provide the bulk of the campaign’s funding, before broadening the organization’s focus.
What is a Campaign Report Meeting?
Campaign report meetings provide an opportunity to inform, educate, train, and motivate volunteers, as well as keep them accountable. These meetings track the campaign’s progress and facilitate an environment that creates and nurtures a sense of commonality of purpose in volunteers.
Steps in a Capital Campaign
Most capital campaigns are divided into phases of activity, typically seeking larger gifts first, then sequentially lower gifts. Initially they focus on a few leadership gifts. Most campaign work and gift solicitation during the early phase is conducted by a small group of top-level donors, professional staff, volunteers, and fundraising counsel. This group meets regularly to report its activities and typically does not require a separate report function.
As the campaign grows, the focus is on increasingly larger prospect groups to broaden the effort. This requires increasing numbers of volunteers. These volunteers concentrate on asking for gifts rather than on other campaign activities. Therefore, the focus of meetings is on recruiting volunteers, orienting them to the campaign plan, training them to solicit gifts, making specific assignments of prospects and tasks, and reporting on their progress.
Typically, donors from an earlier stage of the campaign are recruited as volunteers to ask others. Remember, a good volunteer is a good contributor first! At a campaign orientation meeting, the prospects hear about the campaign case, the organizational structure of the campaign, and the campaign plan, and are asked to participate as volunteers. As part of this meeting, prospects who have yet to make a commitment are given a specific gift request and asked to come back to the next meeting with their gift decision, for training and assignment.
Those that return to the next meeting are the ones that will do the bulk of the asking for the current phase of activity. We have to train them in the most effective procedures for setting appointments, asking for gifts, following up (or “closing”) on the requests, and reporting their results at a series of meetings which are set up at that time to assign prospects to volunteers.
Subsequent meetings for that particular phase are the actual “report” meetings, where the volunteers report on their activities. The most successful report meetings are statistical reports, including, for example:
- How many appointments set
- How many visits made
- How many decisions received
- How many gifts pledged
- How much cash received
The Importance of a Campaign Report Meeting
Besides the statistical function, the report meeting is an excellent vehicle to motivate volunteers and build a sense of camaraderie. Volunteers take pride in their accomplishments. There is a sense of unity as each volunteer contributes toward reaching the goal. And there are many positive experiences to share, through stories and anecdotal information.
Campaign report meetings are also useful for highlighting what is working especially well—and sharing it with the volunteers—as well as what is not working, and making adjustments accordingly. It is an opportunity to address issues volunteers face on their visits and to reinforce the case for support.
Campaign Report Meeting Checklist
- Schedule the meetings as far in advance as possible
- Review the agenda and important points prior to the meeting
- Start and end the meetings on time
- Create a supportive and respectful meeting environment
- Prepare detailed materials for each meeting, including:
- Detailed agenda with time allotments
- Speakers’ notes
- Comprehensive prospect lists
- Training materials
- Volunteer guides
Accountability is vital in a capital campaign. Leaders must know they are being effective and volunteers need a process that educates them in what exactly they are being asked to do, and a forum in which to report that they have done it. A well-done report meeting can help you reach your fundraising goals. For more intensive help with your major gift fundraising, strategic planning, or in preparing for a capital campaign, contact CDS.