• Deanna Ackerman

Enduring Endowment Campaigns

What’s the solution to future fundraising challenges? It’s to launch an endowment of course! CEOs and Boards know the value of an endowment however, they often lack the commitment to make it through an endowment campaign. Endowment campaigns can be like going to the dentist and getting fillings. Not very fun, but very beneficial. There is never really a perfect time to launch an endowment campaign. I’ve seen campaigns thrive during the recession and fail during good times. It really doesn’t matter if you have a cause and a strong board because if you're not working as a team to raise the money you get nowhere. There is one other point that I have to make about these campaigns. If the dollar goal is too high or too low, you’re bound for failure. There’s no way you can expect to raise $50 million dollars if you haven’t even built up your major gifts or planned giving program. You might reasonably expect to raise $10 million, but come on, let’s get real here. What if your goal is only $1 million? Some might say that’s a micro-campaign and ask why bother! Well you have to start somewhere.

It’s tough to watch groups launch campaigns that eventually struggle. Part of the process of managing an endowment campaign is enduring the ups and downs. There will be times when you have absolutely no action – no gifts or very few meetings. There will be other times when you’re moving rapidly and knocking on everyone’s door. The pace at which you conduct your endowment campaign should vary based on the temperament of your board, your committee, and those lead donors. One other note here. You have to keep your eye on the end line – the goal. You can’t worry and watch what other groups are doing in the community. Focus on your donors, big, small, and everyone in the middle. Give them an opportunity to become part of your momentous campaign. I’m sure they’ll appreciate it!

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