JC Anderson Consulting

Paint a "big picture" of your vision for your donors

Do you see yourself in this picture?

You’re planning your capital campaign—drafting members for your team, setting goals and project costs, establishing timelines and budgets, conducting a feasibility study, drafting a test case for support. You’re assembling all the pieces you need for your next campaign…or at least you think you have all the pieces. But there’s something missing. A key component that is often an after-thought, or often not even a thought: campaign communications.

How will you connect with your external and internal audiences to engage them throughout the campaign? How, and what, and when will you help them understand the value of their participation?

A campaign communication plan can help you reach your goals by painting a picture of your vision of the campaign and what it will accomplish.

Here are some things to include:

Internal communication plan:

  • Key messages you need to communicate to your colleagues and volunteer leaders (trustees, alumni and parents council, etc.) throughout the process, including after the public launch (e.g., what you want them to do, how they can get involved, timelines).
  • How you will reach them in a way in which they are receptive to your messages (e.g., portal, email, meetings, newsletters, etc.)
  • The best time frame for communicating along the path of the process

External communication plan:

  • Your target audiences (e.g., will you segment into groups such as alumni/alumnae, Millennials, foundations?)
  • Key messages that will grab the attention of your target audiences
  • The channels you will use to reach your target audiences (e.g., website, events, e-blasts, personal letters)

Next, build your content bank that tacks back to your strategy. Review your current content that shows your institution’s accomplishments and what makes you distinctive and sharpen and repurpose it for use across all communications channels. Include the messages in your existing channels. Develop new content that paints a picture that shows the tangible results of supporting the goals of the campaign.

Strong, compelling communications sets the stage and  warms up your audience for showing them why they will want to be a part of this important chapter in the life of the institution. Create strong messages that illustrate that together, your institution and your donors can accomplish something they aren't able to accomplish on their own.

In his book Belief and Confidence, Ronald Schiller reports "Regular communications between donors and organizational leaders is a minimum requirement for building and maintaining shared belief in vision and confidence in planning. Organizations deepen this belief and confidence through engagement of donors in vision development and in planning—the earlier, the better." (chapter 6, p. 20)

It raises awareness, shows impact, and encourages participation.

It paints a picture of your vision and their place in it.