Clean Your House! Prepare for your Campaign

Susan Hayes-McQueen is presenting "Between Campaigns: Ready, Set... PREPARE!" The role of the research/analytics shop is critical in campaign planning. The key is to actually plan, rather than reacting to other people's plan.

Really important: write it down. (True confessions: I'm not always so good at this.)

The UW's campaign in the 90s looked very different from the campaign they did in the 2000s. Susan says, "Campaigns are a kind of fashion." She just referenced yesterday's excellent presentation by Rob Scott and Chris Pipkin, and noted that this presentation is geared more to the giant comprehensive campaign.

For a research shop, the "between campaign" period is very important. For frontline fundraisers, this period may be a little boring. At the end of a campaign, fundraisers are focused on closing gifts and stewardship. Researchers are focused on starting to evaluate what worked and what didn't work. This includes which prospects are left on the table. The question is, did we maximize our potential?

Susan is showing a chart from Rob Scott -- he analyzed whether fundraising turnover actually harms long-term relationship building. The data says yes. The more managers a prospect had, the lower their giving was. This is an example of the kind of post-campaign analysis that research shops should be leading. One might ask: Were our asks high enough? What behaviors did our best fundraisers do?

It's important to do this quickly. Once the campaign is over, interest in this kind of data wanes quickly.

After the campaign ends, it feels like a "lull before the storm." There's a lot of staff turnover among the fundraisers. This is the time for research to step up and start preparing for the next campaign while analyzing the last campaign.

Susan likens these "in between days" to a busy weekend day. You get a lot done while trying to recharge your batteries.

"Have a cup of coffee": reflect on the last campaign while envisioning the future.

This is a good time to make a to-do list. Susan mentions this is especially important because we tend to announce not only that we are in campaign, but surprise! We've been in campaign for the last 2 years.

This is also a good time for spring cleaning: database conversion (don't do this in a campaign!), clean up your data, buy new data.

Hire the help: recruit volunteers, young leaders, prepare for your feasibiity study.

Take stock of the pantry: develop your initial campaign pyramid, assess your pools (mapping, affinities, linkages).

Sharpen your tools: forms, policies/procedures, reports, accountability measures, scores, capacity ratings, research tools.

Stock up on prospects: screening (asset and peer), modeling, data appends, systematic proactive research. This might be a good time to form a principal gifts advisory council.

Get the kids out the door: it's time for some discovery work. Motivate the fundraising team. UW did a discovery challenge to help motivate their fundraisers. Susan says she does not have a magic bullet for this -- getting discovery accomplished is a challenge in every shop.

Pay the bills: find out if there's anything the research team is not providing to the management/principal gifts team. What exactly do they need to be successful?

Expired condiments: update those old profiles, capacity rating, and affinity scoring.

Talk to the neighbors: talk to your peers. What's fashionable in campaigns these days? Cruise vendor websites too.

Make sure the kids know what's next: communicate -- A LOT. Make sure the fundraising staff knows what you are doing behind the scenes.

When the campaign starts, keep track of institutional priorities. Do some fine-tuning to your processes, reactive research and stewardship reports. Be alert and ready to adjust to disruptive technologies, i.e. the next Google or iPad.

Make sure that you find a place at the table. Make sure the basics are in place -- your database, profiles, research techniques, ratings, affinity scoring, assignments and other coding.

Train, train, re-train, and train some more. Build your relationships with your fundraisers. Build your "emotional bank account" with them. Learn who doesn't know how to sort Excel, who will never open an email, and adjust your strategy accordingly.

Learn about change management to help folks not freak out in the face of a campaign. Campaigns are inherently complicated, overwhelming, and scary. Research should deal with the big scary complexity, freeing fundraisers to get out the door and build relationships.

Somehow you have to carve out time to get the proactive work done.