Is It Time for a Mini Campaign?

When we think “campaign” in our fundraising shops, our minds tend to go straight to the comprehensive or capital campaign. While these efforts are ever-present in our world, they are not the only campaign we can use to move initiatives forward and inspire donors.

Mini campaigns, also called sprint or initiative-based campaigns, can bring focus and inspiration to newly identified priorities, smaller projects or one-off initiatives. They may also be utilized as a pre-cursor to assist with building affinity and feasibility for a larger campaign coming in the near future. Mini campaigns allow us to build urgency while also responding to evolving needs within the organization.

As you plan for how you’ll achieve your ambitious goals this year and beyond, a mini campaign may be the tool you need for success in 2019. Here is a “cheat sheet” I use when weighing whether to embark on a mini campaign:

Is it feasible?

  • Does it align with broader institutional priorities?
  • What does quantified success look like? (e.g. a specific number of scholarships funded, the creation of a patient navigator program, etc.)
  • Does it have an institutional leader who’s willing and able to champion it, both internally and within the community? (And can they designate the time needed to do so?)
  • Is there a constituency that would be interested in supporting the vision?
  • Do we have the right champion? Could we find one?
  • Are we setting the fundraising number based on good data and an understanding of our donor base, or picking a number that simply looks/sounds good?

Are the roles and responsibilities clear?

  • Advancement leadership should pave the way for the mini campaign’s approval, and ensure it’s represented in larger talking points and conversations.
  • The institutional leader should provide the vision for the case and participate in engaging prospects and donors.
  • The lead fundraiser will be responsible for ensuring the case is developed, building the infrastructure of the mini campaign and leading all prospect and donor strategies.

What tools do we need?

  • Printed materials are often the first thing people think of, but are they necessary? Will donors be moved by brochures, or can a simple document be printed in house? A quick video on an iPhone is often more compelling than an expensive and glossy production.
  • Before you create that committee or advisory board, identify exactly what their goal will be, and whether you truly have the right people and resources for them to achieve this goal. You may be better served with champions instead of a board or committee.
  • Do we have strong gift acceptance policies, campaign counting mechanisms and donor experience components in place? Will a mini-campaign allow (or force us) to get these important components in place?

How do we want our organizations to look/act differently when the mini-campaign is over?

  • Do we hope to grow our annual giving base? Build donor pipeline for certain segments of our donor pyramid? Introduce planned giving in new ways? Will a mini-campaign provide a short term or long term stability in these areas? Having honest dialogue before embarking on a new initiative will provide you a much greater opportunity for success.
  • Will our systems be stronger to ensure the right infrastructure is in place for a future comprehensive or capital campaign?
  • Are we trying to build a stronger internal culture of philanthropy? Have we thought about how a mini-campaign will truly support these efforts?
  • Will our relationship with key volunteers look differently? Are we able to truly engage them in our efforts? Do they want to be engaged with our efforts?

Using this checklist will help you and your organization ensure you have the necessary conversations. In any campaign, planning is the key ingredient to ensure you meet your goals.

Philanthropy continues to be the great enhancer for our organizations. A mini campaign may be the right tool to grow your philanthropic relationships in ways that inspire donors in new and compelling ways, while also strengthening critical organizational infrastructure and culture.

Want to learn more? Contact KDD Philanthropy for your planning, training and coaching needs.