In 2008, Boston College launched a campaign to raise $1.5 billion.
But that’s just one-fourth of its goal.
During its 150th Anniversary Campaign, dubbed Light the World, the university also plans to double alumni volunteerism, increase by five times the number of donors who name Boston College in their wills, and increase to 35 percent from 22 percent the number of undergraduate alumni who donate.
Those four goals, which the campaign aims to reach by 2015, each carry equal weight and therefore represent a truly integrated campaign, says Thomas Lockerby, vice president for development and campaign director at Boston College, who spoke at the Feb. 24 conference of the North Carolina Planned Giving Council.
“Very few of our donors care only about their checkbook,” he says. “Engaging them in a campaign that touches everything they care about is a much more effective approach.”
Traditional capital campaign
Traditional capital campaigns, as well as comprehensive campaigns, all focusing on raising a specific dollar amount, in many cases have not evolved along with donors or with the needs of institutions, says Lockerby.
Too often, they leave out critical elements of a campaign:
- Annual giving as a strategic priority is often ignored.
- Legacy giving, or planned giving, which includes bequests, can be left out because the “gestation period” tends to be longer than the life of the campaign, leading development officers to worry about how to count planned gifts.
- Corporate and foundation donors sometimes are written off because they can be “insensitive” to campaigns, preferring instead to focus their giving on mission-related efforts.
- Constituent engagement is often overlooked on the theory that “friend-raising” is different from fundraising.
- Community and political relations can be overlooked, even though most nonprofits’ success depends in large part on a symbiotic relationship with the community.
- Measures of pride, including the percentage of alumni or constituents who give back, are important. “People want to be part of something that’s moving forward,” says Lockerby.
The integrated campaign
But donors today are different from those in past generations, says Lockerby.
“Donors today are more savvy,” he says. “Because they already get it, it presents us with an opportunity to build on that base to broaden their understanding of how a campaign can be even more powerful.”
At the same time, the trend of specialization within the advancement function is swinging back to a more generalist approach that resembles relationship management, he says.
Donors “want to deal with one person about all their gifts and interactions with the organization,” says Lockerby. “As this happens, our campaigns need to follow along.”
But there are both opportunities and challenges associated with an integrated campaign.
On the positive side, an integrated campaign can bring focus to the goals that are most important to an institution, and put budget dollars behind those priorities.
“In my mind, an integrated camp presents the opportunity to close performance gaps in any part of your organization,” says Lockerby.
But expanding campaign goals beyond dollars can stretch an unprepared advancement staff.
“Major-gift officers are accustomed to campaigns, it’s what they live for,” says Lockerby. “They’re heroes because they’re bringing in big gifts.”
Sharing the spotlight and the kudos can be problematic, however, so campaign leaders need to find new ways to make staffers feel valued.
And other advancements staffers – including corporate and foundation officers, gift planners and constituent-relations officers – may not be comfortable in that spotlight and may have difficulty when required to adapt to the often-grueling pace of campaign.
To conduct an integrated effort well, each piece of the campaign must be involved, says Lockerby:
- Rather than simply adopting the organization’s strategic plan, the advancement office should develop a parallel plan tailored to its own operations.
- While a traditional feasibility study examines how much money can be raised, staff and outside counsel in this new paradigm must realize that all campaign goals must be based on research.
- Gift-crediting and gift-acceptance policies should involve the fiduciary side of the organization, should incorporate deferred gifts and should take the broadest view possible.
- Campaign leadership, both volunteer and paid, must be carefully trained and scripted regarding all campaign goals. “They must own every goal of the campaign,” says Lockerby, “and must carry that messaging through the entire campaign.”
- Advancement staff will require careful attention. “You don’t just hand someone a list of new campaign goals,” says Lockerby. “We need to provide mentoring and preparation.”