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Daily Nuggets: A For Impact Blog

Don’t un-start your Campaign because of a Recession


I’m on a west coast this trip, meeting with and working with several organizations. This morning, I’m having coffee with the leadership from an organization that has been prepping for a $75M campaign for three years. The org was ready to ‘launch’ and then decided to hold citing ‘the economy’. They were worried it might be ‘insensitive’ to announce a campaign.

To our friends at this organization (they know who they are): Don’t let ‘a recession’ determine your timeline for saving lives, changing lives and impacting lives…

  • A campaign is a time to build and maximize relationships. This begs the question, when would you NOT want to be building and maximizing relationships? We should be funding the vision – always. Note: Get more on Funding The Vision with Tom’s Campaign book.
  • You need to be out selling. If I were to put that in a softer way that might be more widely received I would say you need to be out telling the story… or even just making visits.
  • 16 months. This is how long it’s taken me to schedule a visit with my best project on one particular project. 16 months of persistence, gate keepers, put-off’s, delays. We persisted because the prospect was our top prospect (we knew/believed this). When we FINALLY got the visit the prospect thanked us for our tenacity… it turned into a $2.1M commitment. If you wait until we’re out of a recession to start ‘working the list’ what happens?
  • 4 months. This is about how long it takes from the time you ASK to the time a six-figure gift is closed. Note: This is of course a little arbitrary and a complete generalization. I took a composite of my own experiences plus stories from funding boot camp alums – representing orgs of every shape and size. My point is, if you need the money in April you can’t start visiting in March.
  • Fine. Don’t call it a campaign. If you’re that worried about perception just don’t call it a campaign.
  • December 6, 1994. This was the day Orange County declared bankruptcy. It was also the same day The Suddes Group started a successful economic development campaign in that same county. I share this and could share dozens of other stories about being out in every economic climate. I’m not just typing a bunch of empty thoughts. We’ve been out there. We are out there – now. I’m damned straight playing the credibility card on this one… now more than ever you need to be out making visits.
  • If you’re worried, be authentic. Let me assure you. No one is going to throw you out of his or her office or home because you’re there on behalf of a worthy cause during “a recession”. And, I PROMISE no one is going to ask, “How dare you come to me right now?” But, if it helps, work up your response and your security blanket. “We can’t stop telling our story because of the market and quite frankly, it’s not the market that’s driving us. It’s [CANCER] [HOMELESSNESS] [EDUCATION] [HOPE] [BEAUTY (arts)].”
  • Finally, remember this is about RELATIONSHIPS, not transactions. The RELATIONSHIP to your CAUSE has nothing to do with the economy.