It’s not your imagination. A recent study by the Nonprofit Research Collaborative shows nearly half of all nonprofits surveyed in the US and Canada are in some type of campaign (27 percent in traditional capital campaigns; 19 percent in “special” campaigns).
The last time this survey was conducted in summer 2011, 12 percent reported being in a campaign. Even taking into account that 2011 was very much in the aftermath of the Great Recession, that is a significant increase.
A few other notable findings:
- Capital campaigns last, on average, 4.72 years; special campaigns last 2.23 years
- $45 million is the average capital campaign goal; $3 million for special campaigns
- Education is the leading sector benefiting from this campaign activity
- Revenue from major gifts rose by 55 percent among the surveyed organizations, regardless of their campaign status
What does all this mean to you and your development planning?
The recession is finally over, not just as a data point, but in the collective psyche. Because the last economic dip was more like a crater caused by a nuclear bomb, it’s easy to forget that we have been out of recession for some time. In fact, we are in one of the longest periods ever between recessions, which means the next one likely isn’t too far off.
If you are thinking about a campaign, it might be time to shift into active planning and implementation mode. If that is not in the cards, then look at a quicker, more focused special campaign to raise major gift money for an initiative or program enhancement.
Use this information to motivate your volunteers. Your fellow nonprofits are reaping the benefits of the current good times; why not yours?
Lastly, don’t use this information as a de-motivator: i.e., don’t think that the philanthropic marketplace is cluttered with too much competition. It’s always cluttered. That would be like refusing to dip your hook into a hot fishing hole because so many other anglers are landing big fish there.
Bottom line: Get a plan together and get out there with the others before the fish stop biting.
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About the Author
James Plourde CFRE
James is always willing to ask the needed questions, helping his clients clarify their path and giving them the confidence to proceed.