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Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Spring Flowers and Campaign Readiness

It’s Spring, a time of transition and surprises! Spring in northern Arizona usually means that my crocuses are just peeking out of the ground when they get squashed by snow.

Sometimes fundraising campaigns and development teams can be like my crocuses. They have early success but then don’t really gain the momentum to reach their goals.

But there’s another spring flower in my front yard—King Alfred daffodils. Every year they come back bigger and stronger than the year before, regardless of a Spring snowstorm. Some fundraising campaigns and teams are like my daffodils—resilient, persistent and successful.

Since you would like to have a successful and resilient campaign and development team, here’s what you can learn from your garden:

Well established roots and a good base. Flowers in their first year don’t always bloom. If your organization’s development function has been stable for a few years and has a good base of supporters, financial or otherwise, you have a better chance of a successful special gifts or capital campaign.
Proper care and feeding. Well-fed plants develop strong root growth. Take the time to invest in education and training for your development team before launching the campaign.
Good stock to begin with. Bad bulbs just don’t bloom. Make sure you have the right personnel on the team, or to mix metaphors and paraphrase Jim Collins, “the right people on the bus in the right seats.”
Plant in the right place. Most flowers have recommendations on what type of soil, light conditions, water levels, etc. will encourage the best growth. If your organization has at least the seeds of a “culture of philanthropy,” your development function has a better chance to thrive. (More on culture of philanthropy in a later tip.)
Plan ahead. Daffodils need to be planted in the Fall. Successful development teams and campaigns don’t happen overnight. Plant, be patient, and then enjoy the end result.

So in spite of unexpected storms, my daffodils are thriving. With proper planning and awareness, your development program and your campaigns can weather the storms as well.


GoalBusters’ note: Thank you to Ken Lain of Watters Garden Center in Prescott, Arizona, for inspiring this tip. Visit their website at www.wattersonline.com to sign up for “The Garden Guy’s” e-newsletter.

For more on this topic, contact GoalBusters about campaign readiness assessment and feasibility studies.
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