The Power of Momentum

Anyone who is a sports fan understands the power of momentum.  Consider the race in which a runner in the pack suddenly starts gaining ground only to surpass each opponent in the final stretch.  Or the basketball team that seemingly catches fire unable to miss a shot as they build their lead toward victory.  According to a study by the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, momentum is a real phenomenon.  Paul Roebber, the study’s author claims, “the physiological basis for this is what’s called the ‘winner effect…which is basically you build on success. So you have one win, then you build another win, and physiologically, it’s essentially a testosterone boost. And there’s also a reduction in stress hormones when you have those wins. So there actually is a physiological reason for why this might exist.”

In fundraising, momentum can be an important tool you can utilize to create urgency, inspire participation and raise more dollars to support your mission.  Developing a campaign is the most effective way to build momentum.  Some may think that campaigns are only relevant for larger organizations who have the ability to raise millions of dollars in support of capital projects.  However, there are a number of ways to utilize a campaign to support your fundraising efforts.

The following are some examples of how to use campaigns in your development efforts to build momentum and raise more funds:

  1. Capital Campaign: The Capital Campaign is the most familiar campaign utilized by non-profits.  These campaigns are typically utilized to raise larger sums of money in support of endowments or building projects.  Capital campaigns require research (do I have the donors to achieve my goal), creativity (do I have a vision and narrative that explains why the campaign is important and what it will achieve), focus (do I have the team and time to reach the donors I need to achieve the goal) and execution (do I have goals and strategies in place in order to succeed).
  2. Integrated Campaign: An integrated campaign utilizes a financial goal, narrative and timeline to raise multiple kinds of gifts in support of your mission.  By projecting future income growth in support of your annual fund, events, endowment, capital projects and planned giving you can raise your donors’ vision of what your organization is trying to accomplish and partner with them to help you achieve that vision.   
  3. Targeted Campaign: Every organization has times throughout the year when expenses increase or income decreases. Both are opportunities to create a targeted campaign to create urgency and inspire increased giving.  If your organization provides summer programs for underserved youth, you could create a two month targeted campaign in the spring to raise funds that will support the summer programs.  Or perhaps you historically raise fewer dollars in the summer but need funds to support programs that take place at the beginning of the school year.  Create a campaign to create awareness of the need and ask donors to support those lean summer months so that your organization doesn’t have to limit programming later in the year.
  4. Recurring Giving Campaign: More and more organizations are dependent on their monthly giving program. A number of organizations create limited campaigns to attract donors to become part of these important giving communities.   For example, you could create a two-week campaign in which you challenge your donor community to increase the number of monthly donors during that timeframe.  Consider adding a matching challenge whereby if you attract a certain number of monthly donors during the campaign a donor will make a significant gift in response to hitting your goal.

Your donors love and support your organization and the impact you make each day.  However, if you tie your communications and strategies to a campaign you will likely inspire donors to do more and help you achieve victories for your organization that momentum helps to create.

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