Campaigns Are Like Marathons – Part 5

Category: Capital Campaigns

Think of a capital or comprehensive campaign like running a marathon. You wouldn’t show up at the starting line without training, or immediately sit down as soon as you crossed the finish line. The fifth installment of this five-part series reveals the capstone phase of the campaign and what to do after you reach your fundraising goals.

Phase 1: Campaign Planning

Phase 2: Assessment

Phase 3: The Early Phase

Phase 4: The Public Phase

Phase 5: The Capstone Phase

The Capstone Phase: Don’t Stop Moving 

Euphoria comes at the end of a campaign, but so does exhaustion. You have spent many months planning, organizing, marketing, and fundraising—by the time you reach your goal, you might be tempted to take a well-deserved rest! However, just like a runner needs to cool down after a race, fundraisers also have a few more steps to take before concluding a campaign.

Celebrate – First and foremost, take time to celebrate the hard work and energy you and your team have poured into the success of your campaign. Executing a capital campaign, like running a marathon, is not something everyone can say they have accomplished. A campaign requires endurance, dedication, and endless optimism—so, as you cross the finish line, take time to celebrate! Display your medal, hug your fans, or perhaps enjoy a festive libation. Be proud of your accomplishments ⎯ you deserve it. 

Take stock – At the end of your race, reflect objectively on how you ran it—and how you might improve next time.  Reviewing your successes, challenges, and puzzles provides valuable insights for future fundraising goals. By examining instances where a different approach could have led to success, you will be better prepared for your next campaign.

Say thank you – A marathoner does not reach the finish line alone. From the friends that cheer you on, to the fellow runners that push you to move a little faster, to the volunteers that support you⎯ marathons are about community.

Campaigns also take a village, and the conclusion of a campaign is an excellent time to show gratitude. Thank every major donor, board member, and campaign volunteer that made success possible: throw a celebratory dinner, call and send handwritten notes, invite donors on tours or grand openings. This attention to detail will help nurture supporters or transform one-time donors into recurring ones.

Share your success – Throughout the community, many people will be invested in your campaign and will want to know about your success. Share your impact with broad-based donors—let them know what their investments made possible. Send a stewardship report to donors; discuss campaign impact in newsletters and on your website. And don’t forget to include stories! These communications will substantiate your ability to use funds effectively and strengthen donors’ trust. 

Start planning for your next race – This experience will be invaluable as you consider your next race—even if it’s not another full-blown marathon! Leverage your successes, challenges, and strengthened fundraising muscles to boost your annual giving, plan for a major gifts initiative, or kickstart your planned giving program. Embrace it: you’ve caught the running bug.

Everyone approaches a marathon differently. No matter which type of runner you are, the steps for successfully reaching the finish line will be the same. Prepare: check that you are able to reach the final goal; identify any potential obstacles along the way. When setting out, maintain a manageable pace, and refrain from sprinting too soon. And after crossing that final threshold, celebrate, say thank you, share your successes—and remember to keep moving forward.