At some point, an organization seizes the opportunity to run a capital campaign. It might be to raise money for a new building or endowment, but campaigns all have one thing in common: motivate busy individuals to give significantly.  This is especially important during the quiet phase, a vital stage of a campaign when you are pursuing gift leads to secure the majority of the fundraising. It’s during this time you can create a sense of belonging, build credibility for your project and create a deep understanding for the project and why it is worthwhile to support.
For more than 20 years, we have had the honor of working with schools, foundations and non-profits not just creating the marketing materials that set them apart but thinking through the steps and stages. Here is what we feel separates a good marketing campaign from an OK one:
1. Get to know each other. Who are your target audiences? What do they care about deeply and how can you link that to your campaign? Humans crave a sense of belonging. Getting to know your top prospects’ interests, motivation and experiences will help build connections. We do this through our Deep Dive where we conduct face-to-face conversations with key stakeholders. Once you know who you’re speaking to, it’s easier to talk to them. We also do secondary research about your organization and others.

2. Tell a great story. Your campaign should center around a story that shows your supporters why this campaign is so important. We also like to break the campaign details into large themes that focus on the outcomes. Be sure to vet these with the campaign leadership. Adding a feedback loop helps refine the messages and prepare you for tough questions donors are apt to ask. Once you have these messages they can be repurposed across your materials.

3. Find images and video that inspire. A picture really does save 1,000 words. A vibrant, well-composed image or emotional video helps your audience understand the impact of their gift beyond the dollars and the bricks. If you’re considering a video, keep it short. Your audience is busy and it’s hard to keep their attention for more than a minute. We like to multi-task. Creating a high definition video will allow you to grab still images and a visual consistency. Visuals helps your audiences imagine themselves to be there once the project is done and understand the magnitude of the endeavor. Don’t have the budget or time for a video shoot? Edited, stock photos can help you out as can infographics. We love to use icons and short copy blocks to break down dry copy into fun information nuggets!


4. Create a distinct campaign name and brand. Leveraging the knowledge you’ve gained with the branding for your organization, will help you differentiate your campaign from other fundraising efforts and signal its importance. It’s also worth creating a campaign name that is memorable, aspirational and interesting. You don’t want the look of the campaign’s branding to set apart from the organization so we leverage the icon and color palette perhaps adding in a new font and color to relate it to the organization while allowing it to stand on its own. This should then be used on all materials related to the campaign: social media, PowerPoint presentations, printed materials including pledge forms, business cards and stationery even some fun swag!

5. Define the channels. In-person events are the most effective but how do your prospects access information after? We like to build microsites or several landing pages that contain in-depth, as well as, timely information. A well-designed, short leave behind piece also helps educate your prospects. That said, print is expensive so try to make the content as evergreen as possible. Speaking of events, depending upon the size of the event, you should consider an attractive PowerPoint presentation with video. It’s always nice to thank your participants. What shows your appreciation more than perhaps a hat or water bottle? Perhaps your audience is younger and wants to be informed through social media. The more you know about their likes and dislikes (#1) the more effective you can be with figuring out the pieces that will work for your teams and their goals. Best of all, you are using the content and images you built in #3 and #4 so generating new materials should be a snap.
Whatever materials you create, be sure you communicate what impact your campaign will have to the communities you serve and how you will do it. Please share your success stories—we’d love to hear them!