Passie Fairies and Capital Campaigns

23 May Passie Fairies and Capital Campaigns

Is Your Next Campaign Going to Sink or Swim?

If you’re in the nonprofit sector, you know exactly how it feels to stress over how you’re going to make your next campaign stand out from the hundreds of other fish in the sea. And with more than 11,000 nonprofits in North Carolina alone, this feat has never been more difficult. As one who works with nonprofits day in and day out, I’ve got some advice for you…and it has to do with the Passie Fairy.

My 3-year-old boy, Declan, loves his passie more than life itself. And by ‘loves’ I mean he has an unhealthy obsession with the thing! I thought my golden retriever had problems when it comes to tennis balls (please don’t get me wrong…he definitely does), but my son has WAY bigger issues. 

Figuring out how to get our son to say sayonara passie and hola manhood has been a long time coming. I can’t tell you the number of sleepless nights I’ve had worrying myself sick over what the heck Declan would do once he realized his passie was gone forever. I knew we had to face it sooner or later, so my husband and I finally took the plunge last weekend.

Our mission – bye bye passie. Our target – Declan. Fast forward two days, and you know what? Things weren’t nearly as bad as anticipated.

Why? I’ve got two words for you. Passie Fairy.

Okay, back to campaigns. You’re probably wondering what the heck Passie Fairies and campaigns have in common? Until yesterday, I hadn’t a clue either. Then out of nowhere, it dawned on me as we were driving home from the beach. What was it that made Operation Passie Fairy such a success? Yes, our execution was flawless, and our super undercover mission of sneaking into Declan’s room in the wee hours of Sunday morning was even better! But there was something else to credit for our success. Just like any successful campaign, it was the steps we took leading up to the launch date that sealed the deal.

Here are my four key takeaways for setting your campaign (or Passie Fairy visit) up for success:

1. Set clear goals and develop a plan.

Like with anything in life, if you don’t have a specific goal or a set plan before you start, failure will likely be the result. Our goal was specific: break Declan of his passie habit. Our launch date was firm: the last day of our beach trip. Our plan was sound: the Passie Fairy would come in the middle of the night on our last night at the beach. Our goal was results-based: moms have tried it before and swear by it. And our backup plan was in place for the meltdown that would surely ensue: candy, chocolate milk, blankies, Mickey Mouse and a surprise beach visit from Declan’s very best friend.

Application: Make your campaign S.M.A.R.T. Set a specific goal. Make sure the goal is measurable, attainable and realistic. And define the timeframe. By doing so, you’ll be able to weigh your successes and learn from your shortcomings. And then of course, always stick to the plan (allowing for slight modifications as needed along the way).

2. Communicate the need.

From the get-go, we reminded Declan that there are lots of kids out there without passies. We explained to him that the Passie Fairy is a good fairy because she takes passies from the bigger kids so she can share them with little kids who don’t have any (we quickly learned that 3-year olds don’t really give a hoot about the whole ‘helping others out’ thing). We communicated the need to our son before we, I mean the Passie Fairy, took his passie.

Application: You’ve got to get your constituents emotionally hooked. What’s the need and how will your campaign solve it? Try painting the picture of what things would look like without your campaign. If you’re raising money to prevent the local homeless shelter from shutting down, talk about the impact of your city streets filled with 1,000 additional homeless people sleeping on the sidewalks each night. 

3. Be creative:

The only shameful thing about the Passie Fairy is that I can’t personally claim it as my own. I mean, come on…telling your child that a freaking Passie Fairy will come in the middle of the night and take his passie because she’s going to share it with kids who don’t have one is absolutely EPIC! Some may consider this lying. I consider it pure genius, primarily because the way this story plays out, I’m not the bad guy, our house isn’t cursed since we did it at the beach, and it’s something over which I have zero control. It simply is what it is. Sorry Declan! 

Application: Creativity is a MUST! Come up with an out-of-the-box idea and have fun with it. If you don’t do something different with your campaign, it will surely get lost in the chatter. I guarantee it! So, don’t be stiff or basic. Dream up a creative brand, and make it come to life. And if you need any help, pick up the phone and call us.

4. Be willing to invest.

I can’t, for the life of me, figure out why we thought it was wise to have the Passie Fairy come BEFORE our three-hour car ride home. But as a result, we invested a good part of our sanity on that ride, and to say we barely made it is an understatement. However, the sunshine came out Monday morning, and we all had smiles on our faces. So, I guess life goes on.

Application: Folks don’t always seem to get this very important piece of the puzzle, but we’ll preach it until we’re blue in the face. You MUST invest money to raise money. Industry standards show it takes an investment of roughly 7-14% on marketing and development efforts in order to pull off a successful campaign. Depending on the amount you’re trying to raise, that investment figure can seem overwhelming. BUT, I promise if you invest in the right people, they’ll pay for themselves and then some, so it’s worth it! Bite the bullet. Make an investment, and watch the dollars roll in.

There you have it! Set clear goals. Have a plan. Communicate the need. Be creative. And invest in your efforts. If you can do these things well, you’ll be way ahead of your competition. And don’t forget, we’re available to talk through your unique challenges. It’s what makes our hearts smile, and it’s what we do best.

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