So, you’ve identified a crucial need at your organization and are ready to launch a major fundraising campaign to meet your goal. Perhaps your nonprofit needs to construct a new building, your university needs to revamp its augmented reality lab, or your hospital needs to refurbish its children’s wing.

Major projects like these require significant planning and support from the community. But before your nonprofit organization or university can conduct these types of campaigns, you must ensure that your team is ready for a significant undertaking.

This guide will review these five tips to ensure internal readiness ahead of your next major campaign:

  1. Take stock of your current resources.
  2. Evaluate your team’s capacity.
  3. Refine your message. 
  4. Reaffirm data hygiene measures. 
  5. Work with a consultant as needed.

With a clear understanding of where your organization currently stands, you’ll be better prepared to tackle your major fundraising campaign successfully and mitigate risks.

Checklist of steps to complete to ensure internal readiness ahead of a major campaign

1. Take stock of your current resources.

Your technology and the ways you use it can make or break your fundraising campaign.

According to the 2023 Nonprofit Tech for Good Report, 79% of nonprofits use automation tools throughout the online fundraising process, and 67% use a constituent relationship management system (CRM) to track donations and manage communications. These types of solutions help nonprofit staff members save time and focus their efforts on top donor prospects.

Before launching your fundraising campaign, evaluate your current technology resources. Determine whether your current solutions are serving your needs or whether you could be making better use of their features. Assess technology such as your:

  • Nonprofit CRM. This system stores your donor data and supporters’ interaction histories. Verify that your current system is ready to support your data analysis needs with complete and accurate data, robust segmentation capabilities, integrations, and real-time reporting features.
  • AI fundraising tools. Your AI fundraising tools will come in handy when developing personalized donor outreach strategies that consider each supporter’s unique needs and engagement history. Test your AI tools ahead of your fundraising campaign by inputting new data points to ensure they can produce accurate, useful insights into your donor base.
  • Marketing software. Your marketing platforms, including your email software, social media platforms, and text marketing tools, will be crucial for getting the word out about your campaign. Ensure they’re ready to go by testing your integrations, such as your CRM or content management system (CMS) integrations. Seamless integrations will help you get critical messages out to your audience quickly.

If you find you’re not actively using certain platforms anymore, such as your social media scheduling tool, consider removing it from your tech stack. Also, if any tools are falling short of your expectations, contact the software provider for advice on how to leverage the solution more effectively. Since data migrations can be lengthy, complex processes, it’s better to avoid switching to a completely new platform right before a major campaign.

2. Evaluate your team’s capacity.

It’s normal for your fundraising team to feel some pre-campaign anxiety before kicking off a major fundraising initiative. Check in with your team members to help ease any concerns and ensure everyone is on the same page. Meet with team members like:

  • Your staff. Survey your staff ahead of time to assess how they feel about your major campaign. Do they feel like they have the resources and knowledge needed to tackle their roles effectively? Do they have the necessary bandwidth to complete campaign-related tasks on top of their regular workload?
  • Your volunteers. Do you have enough volunteers to fill essential roles throughout the campaign? Do you have a clear strategy for recruiting, engaging, and showing appreciation to volunteers?
  • Your board. Are your board members aligned on the campaign’s purpose and enthusiastic about pushing the campaign to success? Do they understand the unique roles they will play throughout the initiative?

If team members do express concerns, address them before your campaign kicks off. Small issues can snowball into major roadblocks that keep your campaign from reaching success. For example, perhaps staff members feel like there isn’t enough bandwidth on the team to complete all necessary tasks. In response, you could plan to bring on more volunteers or temporary staff members to help manage the heavier workload during the months of the campaign.

3. Refine your message.

Every successful fundraising campaign needs a compelling case for support. NXUnite by Nexus Marketing defines a case for support as “your core message and set of reasons why potential supporters should donate to your current fundraising campaign.”

Heading into your next campaign, you might find that your organization’s case for support is outdated or doesn’t speak to your current mission priorities. Update your case for support in the following ways:

  • Align your message to your target audience. Who is the target audience (or audiences) for your current campaign? Use your preliminary campaign research to determine the target donor for this initiative. Then, adjust your messaging to connect with those individuals. For example, your current campaign might be targeted toward wealthier donors who can contribute larger gifts. You might consider refreshing your case for support to emphasize the opportunity for donors to make a major, lasting impact.
  • Add testimonials and data. Update your case for support with new testimonials from community members, including direct quotes and images. This will add emotional depth to your case for support. Also, incorporate data that reveals your organization’s impact. This could include statistics about how many community members you’ve helped or students you’ve supported because of generous donations.
  • Test your messaging with focus groups. Recruit a few focus groups made of long-time donors, volunteers, staff members, and board members. Ask for feedback on your case for support before sharing it with a wider audience.

Your case for support will guide your campaign’s marketing decisions, so update this message early on in the planning process.

4. Reaffirm data hygiene measures.

Having ongoing access to clean, updated data throughout your campaign will help make data-driven decisions if there are any unexpected obstacles.

Your data will help decode donors’ giving patterns, making it easier to adjust your strategy as your campaign progresses. Make sure your database is ready to support your campaign by taking these steps:

  • Comb through your database to identify and remove outdated, unnecessary, or duplicate data.
  • Establish data hygiene practices for your team to follow throughout the campaign, such as standard data entry procedures for inputting names or addresses.
  • Conduct additional training as needed to ensure all team members are clear on your data hygiene measures and how to gather insights from your database.

Although nonprofit professionals often gain experience and learn by doing, it can be helpful to review data processing basics with your team ahead of your next campaign to avoid any errors or lost data.

5. Work with a consultant as needed.

Consultants can provide the objective third-party view your organization needs to assess your internal readiness with clear eyes. Plus, they can offer a helping hand if you determine that your staff could benefit from additional temporary support.

Here are a few common types of consultants nonprofits turn to when getting ready for major campaigns:

  • Campaign planning and management consultant. Campaign planning consultants take a holistic approach to help nonprofits prepare for major campaigns. Their services include reviewing an organization’s structure, data systems, and fundraising goals, and building a guiding roadmap to help with campaign readiness or general improvement. Plus, they can oversee your campaign once it gets started to ensure seamless implementation and boost positive results.
  • CRM consultant. According to BWF’s CRM consulting guide, professional CRM experts can “customize your CRM configuration to meet your organization’s unique needs.” These consultants look specifically at your current CRM technology and internal operations to ensure your processes are as efficient as possible.
  • Marketing consultant. A higher education or nonprofit marketing consultant firm can provide advice on your donor engagement strategies, marketing efforts on different communication channels, messaging choices, and more. This can help you achieve a higher marketing return on investment.
  • HR consultant. If you want to strategize ways to keep employee engagement and satisfaction high throughout stressful periods like major fundraising campaigns, an HR consultant can be a fantastic resource. These partners can assess your current staff management and engagement strategies to make tailored recommendations that increase employee retention.

If you find a firm you’re interested in working with, reach out with a request for proposal (RFP) to give the consultant an idea of your needs and whether they’d be a good fit. Often, consultants can help with more than just the planning phase of a major campaign—they can be a resource for your organization throughout the entire initiative. That’s why it’s important to find a partner that’s a good fit for your organization’s culture.

Planning for a major campaign can be a daunting task. By shoring up your organization’s internal structures, you can give your campaign the strong foundation it needs to reach its goals.