11 elements of messaging a traditional campaign

Just because you think you know what I said doesn’t mean I think you know what I meant when I said what I said compared to what you were thinking I was trying to say.

Uh, yeah.

Even the best of ideas can be sent off the rails when people who think they are going in the same direction are actually going different ways.

During the 2013 Bridge to Integrated Marketing conference, Sara Stern of Lipman Hearne discussed the problem of vocabulary in the nonprofit sector, particularly with the word campaign. Stern said it could be helpful to understand what she called the “traditional” campaign. It has the following characteristics:

  • It is coordinated;
  • Transformative;
  • Has a beginning, middle and end (historically three to five years but can go as long as 10); and,
  • Is led by volunteers (that is, trustees or donors);

In terms of motivation, Stern suggested thinking marriage proposal, not first date. Campaign giving requires emotional commitment plus confidence that the project will succeed. She said the job of the campaign is to:

  • Build understanding and connection;
  • Communicate a grand sense of purpose;
  • Create a timeframe and sense of urgency;
  • Build staff capacity;
  • Focus fundraising on specific, high-priority objectives;
  • Launch new initiatives (and/or construct new facilities); and,
  • Maybe define present activities in compelling ways.