by Ted Grossnickle
Sometimes the best conversations in a consulting practice happen when you have a group of colleagues together and a topic arises unexpectedly--- and it causes all of us to think about an issue facing a client.
This certainly provides a glimpse into what values drive our practice and it also makes us realize we are often hearing or dealing with the same issues across a wide range of non-profit clients.
Recently at JGA, one of those issues popped up. We have a client near the end of a significant capital campaign. The campaign leadership faces a set of big challenges in terms of building a strong volunteer and staff team and a big goal in terms of dollars to be raised. They also face the challenge of creating a sense of ownership and participation among their constituents and the community.
As they celebrate the success of the campaign and near the dollar goal ahead of schedule, many campaign volunteers have suggested they should immediately “declare victory” and end the campaign early.
After all, they reasoned, “we will have raised the initial dollar goal we set out to achieve, that is what we told everyone for this phase and why should we go on after that?”
There was just one problem. The amount to raise wasn’t the only goal. Another critical goal was to make everyone feel a part of this very public effort --- and to help everyone see that they could play a role in making something very important in the region happen. And not everyone had been given a chance to make a gift.
We often make the case to our clients that philanthropy is about more than just raising money – it is an opportunity for us to allow others to become involved and demonstrate support. Donors want to feel that they have a role in accomplishing something for the organization. They want a chance to participate.
Holding true to those values, our counsel to the client was to continue to conduct the campaign and to make clear that everyone should be given an opportunity to make a gift.
Campaigns are about more than a goal; if we believe in the common work we do in philanthropy, we surely believe that gifts at the lower end of the gift table are just as important as those at the top --- and that those donors need to express their generosity as well.
I’m proud of my colleagues and proud of our client for upholding those values so well.