Undergoing a significant capital campaign requires a broad base of big donors. From what I have seen so far, these donors come in three different categories:
- Current supporters
- Friends on supporters
The categories are arranged in order of how likely they are to support the campaign and how easy they are to reach. The first two categories are very self explanatory. Current supporters already understand and connect to the mission and vision of your cause. You also already have an established communication channel, so it is easier to make new requests and get additional support. It is simple to see why they are the best group to work with. Most times, however, this group is limited so the next category is made up of their friends and connections. The hardest part in development is to initiate relationships, and having a reference makes it a lot easier to start as compared to a cold call or email.
For big capital campaigns, however, the first two categories of donors are not always enough and you have to work harder to start relationships with strangers. Strangers are people in certain communities with capacity to give, who don’t have any current connection to your cause or current supporters. Creativity is key in order to help initiate this relationship.
For my project in Dublin specifically, one creative idea the team has identified to successfully engage strangers is to 3D print small models of the new Dublin branch and send it to potential donors in order to peak their interest and ensure that they will read our materials. For the next couple months, one of my side projects will be to ensure this happens and identify other creative opportunities.
I wrote about this because I never thought of this as a part of development, but I find it very interesting.