July 18, 2014

Using Your Fundraising Time Effectively

In my July 11, 2014 blog I asked the question “How much time can a Church leader anticipate spending on the day to day activities of a successful campaign?” If you missed it, you can access it here

If we consider fundraising as not just a means to an end, but a ministry with the power to transform communities then the question of time raises questions about not just the amount of time---but how do you effectively use it. 

ECF Capital Campaign consultant Jerry Campbell writes:

“First, the good news…

“A capital campaign has a very good chance of being successful if the priest, bishop, or executive director happily and effectively devotes at least 1/3 of his/her time to the campaign. Let me say a little bit about those key words. 


“If the priest, bishop, or executive director can’t develop some genuine affection for the process of cultivation, relationship building and solicitation, it will be obvious to one and all and a serious impediment to a successful campaign. If this means getting some training with regard to major donor fundraising, and/or shadowing an Episcopal colleague in the course of his/her fundraising efforts, then that should be a priority before the campaign is launched. You have to find the fun factor in the work…or leave the campaign to the next person serving in that role. 

“Doing this work well requires practice and a willingness to incorporate feedback from friends, colleagues and donors with regard to what “works.” The number one challenge for priests, bishops, or executive directors is to learn to talk less and listen more. But if that habit can be mastered and is combined with welcoming healthy feedback, effectiveness will follow. 


“Leaders have to be willing to devote time, energy, and personal resources to the campaign. This inevitably requires the individual in charge leaning how to say “no” to something else. This may well be the hardest part of managing a successful campaign…being willing to let some things move to be “back burner” for the duration. 

“Next, the bad news….

“There is no such thing as a capital campaign ever being over. They only have active and inactive phases. 

“Effective fund development requires that the priest, bishop or executive director is ALWAYS making a priority of cultivation, relationship building and solicitation. In an active capital campaign the percentage of time devoted to this rises to 33%. While you are working the inactive capital campaign, that percentage can safely fall to 25%, but less than that and the likelihood that the next active capital campaign will be successful is being reduced. 

“An Episcopal entity that I’m familiar with had an executive director who was legendary for staying in touch with benefactors and friends. When a feasibility study suggested a capital campaign might raise $8 million, he secured 11 gifts of $1 million or more by drawing on the close relationships he had methodically built up over many years. “