Steps to Take in Preparing for a Campaign PDF Print E-mail

There are a few "typical" steps to take in preparing for a Campaign. These include:

  • Articulate a "Vision for the Future" that looks ahead, not to the past. Base this on the Mission statement of the organization, but be specific about how you want the agency to "demonstrate its worth" to the community in which you find yourself. Focus on a picture of the organization five to ten years out.
  • Develop a narrative description of the capital or special project, with an overall goal, rationale and timeline for implementation. Try to separate out short-term "priorities" and long-term objectives.
  • Establish criteria for the type of campaign counsel you need, describing as best you can the specific tasks that you would be expecting outside campaign counsel to address.
  • Research fundraising firms from the web or in trade journals, such as the Chronicle of Philanthropy or the AFP Consultant Directory at www.afpnet.com.
  • Develop an RFP - a request for proposal - that you can send to prospective firms so that each one can send to you a methodology as to how they foresee assisting you. You should be able to assess their responsiveness to your specific situation, although you should not expect detailed work plans until they meet with you to evaluate your needs and your specific situation.
  • Interview up to four prospective firms based on their written responses to your RFP. Your campaign leadership team (including the executive) should be involved in this decision-making process. Once you make a preference, check references of the firm's former clients, especially with other organizations in your industry or other nonprofits in the region.
  • Present the final recommendation to the Board of Directors and negotiate a contract.

Questions to Ask in Evaluating a Consultant

  • What services does your firm offer that would be in our best interest?
  • How has your firm served organizations like ours, with special reference to (religious/education/healthcare) institutions and other organizations in our area?
  • How have you measured success in working with these specific clients?
  • Who would be the consultant assigned to work with us as our campaign manager?
  • How would the consultant and the overall contract be supervised?
  • How often and to what degree would the firm's "principal" be involved with us, and how?
  • How is compensation arranged for eventual campaign management, and how are payments structured on a month-to-month basis?
  • What do you expect from our volunteers and staff?
  • What kind of reports do you provide and how frequently would these come?
  • Do you have other contracts that might provide a conflict of interest in this community?
  • Is your firm in compliance with local, state and national licensing requirements?

Basis of Payment

When you sign a letter of agreement with the outside consulting firm, you should expect to pay a "retainer" for the first stages of the work. This initial fee is calculated on the basis of the first stage of the work in the project, often known as a Feasibility Study or a Readiness Audit or a Campaign Needs Assessment. Whatever it is called, it will focus on the preparedness of your organization to mount a campaign. The contractual time period will vary -- it will range from 45 to 90 days, depending on the size of your organization and the Scope of Work to prepare for the campaign.

Unless your campaign is projected to include multiple projects and the building of endowment, you should expect to pay $10,000 at the low end, and up to $60,000 at the high end for such a Study or Assessment. You should have clearly articulated objectives and expectations for the "deliverable" at the end of this stage. You should not "lock" yourself in to any long-term contract without having a contingency evaluation at the end of such an Assessment or Audit. You should not obligate yourself in advance to this consulting firm beyond this initial report, because this is the period during which you "get to know each other." Keep your options open at this stage.

If you have other questions, please feel free to contact us.