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News You Can Use

News You Can Use
Issue 110/February 2012

Campaigns Are Going Over Goal… Really!

Judy KellerBy Judy Keller, CFRE
Senior Vice President   

If you pay attention only to some of the doom and gloom still present in the media about fundraising’s incredibly slow recovery, you may find it hard to believe, but campaigns today are not only succeeding, they going over goal in the face of a shaky economy.

Recently, I was in the fortunate position of counseling a client in how to go over the top as they easily surpassed their million-dollar capital campaign goal. This campaign succeeded in nine months – well ahead of our original 12-month timeline for four reasons: Good planning, a solid case for support, a great Steering Committee, and a reasonable goal.

As the yes’s poured in, the volunteers got excited. It became clear that we would exceed our goal three months before we actually hit it. However, those same volunteers had many questions about how to do that in a highly visible project, in a small town where everyone wanted to know how we were doing?

Our Steering Committee felt strongly that we needed to be transparent in everything we did.  We agreed that we must be honest with donors and the general public about the campaign’s progress. Still, a few volunteers did not want to announce that we’d made our goal for fear that the gifts would stop coming in once the community knew we’d raised the money we needed.

The campaign had been exclusively for capital improvements for the local library – the first renovation in nearly 40 years – and there was discussion about raising the goal and asking for additional gifts to build a much-needed endowment. Still, others worried about campaign costs and wondered how to work those expenses into the goal without disclosing too much information? 

In the end, the Steering Committee determined that we must remain honest and grateful for the gifts we had received and that an extended campaign for a different purpose would be unfair to the community.

We raised the original goal of $1 million and the additional expenses, reporting the net amount raised and completely reimbursing the client for the initial investment it had made in conducting the Community Readiness Assessment and the campaign, itself. Even taking the expenses into consideration, we were more than 10% over goal when we had a community-wide celebration and announced our final total.

To celebrate our success, the client is hosting a highly visible special event with a nationally-known headliner. All the expenses for the event have been covered in sponsorships and our goal is to fill the 2,000-seat auditorium at the local fine arts center. It will be especially rewarding if we fill the hall, since the largest audience the library has attracted for a similar event in the past was 200. All proceeds from the evening will support the library’s next goal: the program endowment fund.

After a successful capital campaign and a grand event to celebrate it, the Board of Directors is inspired to reach for its endowment goal. It is incredibly gratifying to see volunteers and staff with new-found confidence in the organization and its ability to raise major gifts. 

With good planning, a solid case for support, a great Steering Committee, and a reasonable goal our campaign went Over the Top and yours can, too.

Jeffrey Byrne & Associates is committed to helping our nonprofit partners develop strategies to assist in successful capital, endowment and major gifts campaigns in even those most challenging of economic climates. We know that campaign readiness depends more on organizational readiness, strategy and meeting the six Criteria for Success than any external environmental factor. Simply put, the right case, with the right leadership and commitment, at the right time, will succeed. Contact us for more information on how you can build a strategy to go Over the Top: 1-800-222-9233,

When You Have the Chance, Make Each Throw Count

Jennifer Furla

By Jennifer Furla
Executive Vice President 

Make each throw count. That was the tribute and the message my friend wanted to impart. That day at the memorial service, the nave of the church was packed with friends, family, former law partners, and classmates of the couple’s three incredible children. An extraordinary person, one said, who believed in an ordinary life well lived.

School had just let out for the holidays and I found myself thinking that this gathering should not have been for such an occasion. He’d only moved to our town five or six brief years ago and look how many he’d touched. As I read the memorial leaflet, I realized that although my husband and I had very much enjoyed the company of the gentleman who’d so suddenly left this earth, I had not an inkling of the depth of this man.

My friend continued: They had together coached baseball for their sons’ grade school teams for five years. My friend had not known that this modest, yet extraordinary person had played in the minor leagues before an injury led him to attend law school. He learned over those five years that there was much more to this man.

For five seasons, each practice, each of 15 games a season, the advice was always the same: Make each throw count. What he now understood, my friend said, was that this advice was much more a life lesson than simple, direct advice before a little league baseball game. To all of us sitting in the nave, to the boys who were part of this man’s little league team, the advice resonated and was clear: Each time you throw, each time you’re up at bat, each time life gives you an opportunity … Make it count.

I wonder: How often is it that you were up at bat, had the ball, had the opportunity, and wished that you’d made it count?

There’s a lesson here for me and I will share it with you. Now that this modest, yet extraordinary gentleman is gone, I wish I had known him in a much more intimate way. I did not know of his youth, his schooling, his passion for history and baseball. I knew of the love he showed for his wife of six years and her three children. I’d seen it first-hand and for that I admired him greatly. I had sensed his professional stature, but this modest man never boasted about his successes as a trial lawyer. He never impressed with his scholarly intellect. Instead, he was much more interested in the person he was with, to learn about them. It was said that he often observed that it was important to truly see another person, because most likely that person, like you, is trying their best and trying to do the right thing.

Now that he is gone, I wish I’d taken in each aspect of this extraordinary individual. I wish I’d made it count.

To you, I declare: In this profession we are so incredibly privileged to become acquainted with modest, humble, yet extraordinary people who believe in an ordinary life well lived. They are the donors, volunteers, and others who are passionate about changing lives through the good works they support.

When you have the chance to sit down with them, to truly get to know them, their interests, their history, their passions: Seize the opportunity. Make it count.


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