Six Principles of Successful Campaigns*

Supporting Virginia’s 5 Things You Need for Success are the following principles for successful campaigns:

  1. Positioning Relative to the Competition.

    The most attractive charitable organizations stand out from the crowd. They know how to distinguish themselves as philanthropic investment opportunities and set themselves apart from others which compete for the attention of donors and volunteers.

  2. Creating Authentic Involvement.

    If an organization wants people to invest their time and resources in a program, it must give them authentic involvement in the cause. The best way to develop that sense of involvement is to invite a person to do something important for the organization – something he or she is especially qualified and suited to do. The donor/donor prospects will then become an insider(s). Once that happens, he or she will have a greater stake in the success of the institution – and a greater willingness to contribute to that success.

  3. Importance of the Planning Process.

    The primary benefit of the planning process is the process itself, and not the plan. If an organization’s leaders are alert to opportunities, they will use the planning process to get people involved in mapping the organization’s future – especially those people who have the power to help bring about the future. People are simply more motivated to work for, and invest in, the realization of plans they themselves have helped to develop.

  4. A Handful of Leaders Will Do Most of the Work.

    A small number of prospects will produce the greatest results. In most successful campaigns, 90% of the funds come from about ten percent of the donors. Moreover, the best prospects for the immediate future are those that have already given.

  5. People Give to People.

    People don’t give to an institution. They give to the person who asks them. They may give for people, but a contribution is often made because of how one person feels about another. Real money cannot be raised without people. Even in the case of corporations or foundations, people ultimately make decisions about giving.

  6. Someone Must Set the Bar – Early.

    Those who give early must also give at the highest levels. They set an example for those donors who follow. Campaigns should be structured so that the very first prospects to be solicited are those closest to the cause and most likely to contribute at the highest levels.

*Adapted from “The Raising of Money” by James Gregory Lord.

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