Reporting on the progress of a capital campaign is a vital function of an efficient and effective fundraising initiative. Capital campaigns are often large, seemingly unwieldy endeavors that can appear overwhelming and unaccountable. But in fact, they are precisely driven initiatives with a specific schedule of activities that must be accomplished in a particular order and fashion.
Therefore, it’s important that an organization carefully monitor its progress along the campaign timeline, analyze and evaluate results, identify problems, specify corrective actions and set forth upcoming activities for the volunteers involved. This is the function of the campaign progress report.
There should be an established reporting period for reviewing the progress of a capital campaign. For campaigns that are a year or more, this period should be monthly, a sufficient period to review results in relation to the campaign plan. For campaigns of a shorter duration, weekly or bi-monthly reports may be needed.
The progress report can be relatively short, in memo form, but formally written by the person responsible for managing the campaign. It should be directed to the chief executive of the organization, the volunteer leaders of the organization and campaign leaders. The report should use a consistent format and include:
- An overall statistical report on the progress of the campaign to date, including:
- Total raised
- Percent of goal achieved
- Campaign timeline and where the campaign is on it
- Total solicitations
- Total decisions
- Total gifts
- Rate of participation (number of gifts to decisions)
- Average gift
- Total of pending requests
- A general evaluation of the progress of the campaign to date, including key campaign activities that occurred during the report period;
- A specific evaluation of the statistical progress of the campaign to date;
- A statistical report on all phases of activities underway during the report period followed by a specific evaluation of those results as they relate to the goal of the phase and as the phase relates to the overall goal of the campaign and upcoming phase activities;
- A discussion of problems being encountered and/or challenges the campaign is facing;
- A discussion of planning in progress for upcoming phases of the campaign;
- Action steps for the next report period;
- A report on the budget and expenditures to date; and
- A summary that addresses the overall progress made toward the goal, highlights issues needing attention or action, and discusses costs or budgeting issues, scheduling issues and upcoming plans and objectives.
It is important to establish a regular, personal presentation of the report. This permits a forum for discussion and analyzing as well as taking corrective actions. It also ensures accountability as leaders are personally informed and invited to be part of the review process. In my experience, these report presentations are very effective ways to engage appropriate leaders to take action in areas that need their attention. It also has the advantage of having the decision- makers present to address pressing or extraordinary issues requiring executive decisions.
Progress reports also provide excellent opportunities to reinforce the campaign plan. Once the campaign is underway and things are beginning to take shape, volunteers and donors start to see the results of their labor and sacrifice. Actual experience can be measured against the plan in:
• How well methods and procedures prescribed in the plan actually work;
• How the actual fundraising results measure up against expectations;
• How many are making gifts in relation to the number asked;
• What the average gift is and how it measures against the plan;
• How actual gifts relate to the proposed table of gifts; and
• What we can project based on where we are.
Actual results often motivate volunteers. They become enthused and realize that the plan works when applied. They then become advocates for the campaign plan and are motivated to share exciting results. This creates a compounding factor in both enthusiasm and willingness to carry out the plan and in those making decisions to participate with a gift and by volunteering.
In the end, regular, personal reporting on the progress of your capital campaign will provide you with a measuring device that permits informed decision-making. Such reports provide clear analysis of what has been accomplished and outlines what is planned. Progress reports also provide a “snapshot” of where the campaign is in relation to its overall goal. Most of all, progress reports inform, communicate and measure results.
Custom Development Solutions, Inc., (CDS) is among the most sought after fundraising consulting firms specializing in the strategic planning and tactical execution of capital campaigns for non-profits throughout the United States and Canada. If you have a fundraising question, please call CDS at 800-761-3833 or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.