Four Steps Your School Must Take Before Launching a Fundraising Campaign

Four Steps Your School Must Take Before Launching a Fundraising Campaign
Four Steps Your School Must Take Before Launching a Fundraising Campaign

School Head

Launching a new fundraising campaign is both exhilarating and nerve-wracking. Whether you are planning a capital campaign for a specific purpose or an annual fund campaign to support current and future enhancements, there are certain elements your school must have in place to be successful.

All campaigns require clear goals, targeted donor solicitation, and a strategic sense of timing. But you must also take these four preliminary steps before launching a new fundraising campaign.

Step #1: Ensure your school’s strategic plan and strategic financial plan are in use. These documents guide every decision at your school. Strategic plans focus on the viability-related issues implicit in school finance, governance, and management. Your plans must be in place so your fundraising campaigns can align with your strategic vision for your school community. (ISM members can see an sample strategic plan in Ideas & Perspectives, our flagship periodical. Learn more about membership here.)

Step #2: Provide information so the Board is fully invested in the campaign. The Board must understand its vital role in your school’s fundraising efforts and be prepared to fully participate. All Trustees, not just those serving on the Development Committee, must understand the importance of assisting you, your Development Office staff, and the Development Committee in identifying and evaluating potential lead givers. One way to do this is by encouraging your Board to set aside time during Board meetings to discuss, explore, and develop strategies focused on lead donors.

Step #3: Craft your campaign’s case statement so it identifies your school as a community asset worthy of philanthropic support. This marketing tool communicates with donors and prospects, and begins the process of matching their values and interests with your school’s mission and guiding principles. When your case statement connects the hearts of your donors with the core of your mission, you inspire them, raise their sights, give them a sense of importance, and establish community. It must be developed properly before beginning your campaign.

Step #4: Properly prepare the Development Office. This includes structuring the Office with well-trained staff who have fundraising experience and are effective at stewardship. They must understand development procedures such as database management and donor tracking, as well as soft skills like listening and relationship building. These school employees must then be able to share their strategies and train volunteers to be confident fundraisers. This team must be established at the beginning of your campaign to help launch it successfully. 

There are many elements your school must have in place to effectively launch a fundraising campaign. Ensure these four steps are included and take on a new campaign with confidence.


Build and Grow a Robust Annual Fund

Additional ISM Resources:
The Source for School Heads Vol. 17 No. 6 The Head's Role in Major Gifts Fundraising
The Source for Advancement
Vol. 16 No. 7 The First Step of Any Successful Fundraising Campaign

Additional Resources for ISM Members:
I&P Vol. 43 No. 15 How Do You Know If Your School Is Ready to Plan a Campaign?
I&P Vol. 40 No. 2 Planning the Comprehensive Campaign: Guiding Principles for Success

Volume Number
Volume 17
Issue Number
Image of a teacher and students in class
Image of a teacher and students in class

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