You’ve wrapped up a feasibility study, completed a round of stakeholder interviews, and have a green light to get your capital campaign underway. Right about now, excitement levels are through the roof! You probably want to get started on your case statement right away. After all, your case for support is perhaps the most important element of your campaign.
Your case statement includes important information about your organization, its impact, the scope of the project, and the financial structure of the campaign. But another key element of your case statement is your campaign branding. In other words, how you communicate who your organization is and what you are all about. This is true, regardless if we are talking about capital campaign branding or another major initiative.
Campaigns that successfully engage donors at all levels do so because the administrators behind it have taken the time to consider the campaign’s brand and how it aligns with the case for support. When we think of branding, most people’s minds jump to things like a name, logo, or catchy slogan. Yes, these elements are part of it, but effective branding involves so much more.
Setting the Tone
Think of branding as your campaign’s first impression. Messaging, tone, and visual elements are all part of your brand. It’s a way to connect the people who matter most to you with the values of your organization and campaign. Your audience doesn’t have the same look into the day-to-day details behind your work. They depend on your capital campaign’s branding to communicate that for them.
Any good campaign will have a strong, well-planned, and strategic brand. At the root of your brand is the organizing principle, the why of your campaign. This core message needs to touch every element of your campaign and reflect the reasons stated in your case for support. It will serve as an anchor and demonstrate the importance of your initiative and how it will affect those involved. This will be a central tenet throughout your case statement. You will then support it through visual branding and the other elements of your campaign.
What Makes a Brand?
Clearly communicating why your campaign matters, how it furthers your goals, and what the end result will look like is crucial for your campaign case. These values take your communications from being a list of needs, to messages that support a cause. It won’t be easy, and it will require participation from everyone in your organization. Board members, staff, volunteers, and advocates all play a role. They should all be trained to clearly communicate and understand your brand so they can speak to it in a way that resonates with potential donors.
You can’t move forward until you have the idea behind your brand nailed down.
What is your campaign going to accomplish and why? The easy answer is “We need to raise funds to construct a new building.” But that’s not the right answer.
Are you really just building something? Or are you creating an environment of innovation that will help find the next scientific breakthrough?
Are you constructing a new water treatment plant? Or are you improving quality of life for people who’ve never known a life where they didn’t have to boil their drinking water?
Which of these messages are going to inspire your donor base and make your vision a reality? A mission-first perspective helps stakeholders and potential donors at all levels buy into a shared ideology and unifies them as one.
Once you have established the big idea behind your campaign, you can further develop your strategic message in a compelling case for support. Collateral developed for case statements usually incorporate distinctive visuals, like architectural renderings of a new building and other images that resonate with the community. However, we caution against using too many images of buildings. Focus the images on who the campaign will impact and the advancement of your core mission. Again, building a building is only the conduit to the end goal. The visuals you end up choosing will be a reflection of the brand you have chosen to represent your campaign.
The focus for this brochure is to heighten the level of visuals and expand the content for high level donors. Your strategic mission-centric messaging amplifies that big idea behind your capital campaign’s branding. It needs to connect donors with the campaign’s mission by demonstrating the why, how, and what in a meaningful way. These elements should be built cohesively. You can then use these ideas in the other elements of your capital campaign’s brand.
You can get more mileage out of your case statement by creating versions that are applicable for donors at different giving levels. This will involve omitting certain information that can date the piece and make it useful for the duration of your campaign.
As you move to a more public phase of the campaign, make sure your online content aligns with all your other messaging about the campaign. When a donor takes a look at your campaign online, it should be clear that this initiative is separate from other initiatives like your annual fund.
A standalone campaign microsite reinforces messaging for all potential donors and serves as a highly flexible digital tool. It can be updated and modified quickly and easily to reflect where you are at in relation to your goals. Since the site is specific to the campaign, a scaled down, focused design and message that parallels the case statement is the best approach.
Your microsite should include:
- A home page that emphasizes the why of the campaign
- Goals of the campaign
- Leadership Information
- Progress/support page with a link to online donation area
The Foundation of Your Campaign
A strong brand sets the foundation for the crucial elements and tools used to promote your campaign. If each piece isn’t anchored by a centralized focus, there is a better chance you’re your message and communications will become disjointed and confuse donors.
No matter how good the idea behind your campaign is, you will not be able to achieve your goals without effective capital campaign branding. Your communications need to go beyond the physical elements of what you are raising money for.
The real question is why your campaign will help your organization advance its mission. Therefore, your case for support and brand messaging need to be aligned seamlessly, and when done right, the other pieces will fit into place.