The Campaign Build Phase: Collateral Is King

Creating a comprehensive or capital campaign brand is like building a house. And just like a house, your campaign is only as strong as your foundation (research/discovery). From there, we frame the walls (messaging/naming) and select finishing materials (visual identity) before you can add splashes of color, move in, and deck your campaign out with furnishings that express and amplify your style. None of that work happens in a day. It’s a thoughtful process.

That penultimate part? That’s the phase where the campaign brand is brought to life. We call it the build phase of the campaign brand-creation process, because it’s where your untested brand comes to life and is built up on the foundation you’ve made. It’s in this stage that you get to create beautiful and compelling collateral that will market your campaign message to the world. Trust us, it’s worth the work and wait.

Here’s what you need to know to make the build phase a success and turn your capital campaign house into a home.

What makes up the build phase of the campaign process?

The build phase of any comprehensive or capital campaign provides the opportunity to bring your campaign brand to life, tell the world about your mission, and the impact you’ll make with the funds you raise. Campaign collateral is the crux of the build phase. These materials are a large part of how you communicate your mission to your audience. 

Imagine filling a “war chest” with materials to take on the fundraising trail. Your campaign will have different, custom collateral requirements at different points along the journey.

The build phase contains two strategic sub-phases: the quiet phase and the public phase. Throughout these two phases, you have the opportunity not only to create exciting, beautiful, and motivating collateral, but also to test your campaign to see what’s truly making the biggest impact.

In the quiet phase a majority of funds are raised through smaller-scale personal interaction where collateral should be tailored to individual, high-dollar donors. After all, they will be the major supporters of your fundraising campaign.

The time and money you invest in developing a brand followed up with exceptional, personalized collateral will pay off.

The quiet phase allows your team to test your campaign brand with major donors. This early period will shape how the campaign rolls out to the world, and will allow you to gain needed momentum. 

The public phase is where you’ll adapt and launch the campaign to reach far and wide, connecting with a much larger donor pool. 

In this phase, you’ll find plenty of opportunities to repurpose the collateral you produced for the quiet phase. But you’ll also need to expand your arsenal to include materials with more mass appeal, designed to engage and inspire the larger community. 

Building a capital or comprehensive campaign is an iterative process 

The build phase is not only the beginning of rolling out your campaign. It’s also a crucial opportunity to make sure that your campaign brand has legs. 

The good news? You have time to refine and optimize your brand as you go. The two-phase system of rolling out your campaign provides a framework for launching your brand in a thoughtful, deliberate way. As you progress from the intimacy of the quiet phase to the larger public phase, you can test, iterate, and refine your brand and collateral. Your campaign should flow from a soft launch in the quiet phase to a more and more finalized portfolio as you broaden your appeal. And this refining process doesn’t hinder the campaign’s progression — it sharpens it. 

The quiet phase: Time to refine

Before the build phase, a fundraising campaign brand is like a ball of pent-up energy. The quiet phase is your first opportunity to put that energy to the test. It helps that the quiet phase is so, well, quiet. Internally, you’ve already workshopped your brand. Now you get to see it perform in a narrow, targeted context.

During this time, your collateral serves a very specific purpose: Motivate major donors to support your campaign. The quiet phase is typically where you get a massive head start on your fundraising goals. Through the work with major donors, you should aim to capture 60-80% of your goal in the quiet phase alone. Because of this, what you create needs to be incredibly specific. 

In the quiet phase, the top two most important pieces of campaign collateral are your pitch deck and leave-behind materials, which include the case for supporting your campaign. The pitch deck should clearly define the problem, solution, and how the individual donor you are speaking to can help. The leave-behind materials should contain similar supporting messaging that is  more robust, depending on what you are asking of your donor. 

Though these materials will be highly attuned to this smaller audience’s motivations and interests, much of it can be repurposed for what comes later in the public phase. First, though, you need to get a sense of how your campaign brand holds up in the real world. 

Test and refine 

The quiet phase is an excellent opportunity to test your capital campaign brand with a sympathetic audience. You’ll not only see if your brand is capable of motivating and inspiring, but get valuable feedback on how best to communicate your message on a larger stage.  

In the quiet phase, you’ll be working with major donors who are known quantities: They have a demonstrated interest, the means to give, and a familiarity with you and your cause. Through your interactions (and the funds you raise), you can learn if your goal is realistic, and if your brand and messaging resonate. 

In addition, using the feedback from major donors allows you to discern how your brand “breaks.” By that we mean, where does it break down? Are there use cases the collateral doesn’t cover? Gaps in the messaging? Specific jargon that is or isn’t appropriate? Armed with this vital information, you can refine, reinforce your messaging, and ensure the brand you present to the public offers the best first impression to the wider audience.

The public phase: Broadcast your capital campaign brand

If the quiet phase is characterized by specific, tailored messaging, and a small, handpicked audience, the public phase is the opposite. The public phase is where you harness the momentum and debut your campaign to the world. Grab your bullhorn! 

The opportunity to assess and refine your brand’s performance during the quiet phase will now pay off as you launch to a much larger audience — one that spans the spectrum from passionate supporters to the completely unaware. To make the best impressions and the biggest impact, you want to get your comprehensive or capital campaign just right in the public phase.  

This includes campaign collateral. You are applying and extending what you learned from the previous iterative process to a new wave of material production. Much of the collateral you’ve created in the quiet phase can be adapted, repurposed, or reused as you expand your reach. Other items will need to be newly created as your goals change and the audience broadens.

Extraordinarily important to the public phase are assets that communicate to a broader audience. Like any advertising or marketing campaign, you’ll need a beautiful, easy-to-find, and easier-to-use website. While you’ve created custom private websites and specific landing pages already, you now need a site that acts as an essential hub to dispense information and guide higher-volume internet traffic. 

The public phase also means making use of physical space and large events. You’ll need striking signage placed in areas of high foot traffic and engaging graphics to create a consistent atmosphere. Think of a college football stadium where everyone is decked out in team colors. With beautiful event collateral, you can bring that same vibrant energy to your physical spaces. 

Hopefully, by this point your brand is completely dialed in, but be ready to iterate and optimize as you continue your campaign. New needs will arise, and your war chest of campaign collateral should evolve with those changing needs. 

Take a step back and see what you’ve built

Set your capital or comprehensive campaign up for success with careful planning, thoughtful testing, and artfully crafted collateral. In doing so, you’ll create a strong brand identity, a passionate audience, and the right materials to reach them at the right time. You’ll see your brand start as a foundation and become a fully-furnished home.

The build phase isn’t the end — it’s really the beginning. You’ve put in the work, now it’s time to reap the rewards.

Chad Paris

Chad Paris

Principal, CEO
The perfect marriage of strategist, consultant, & rainmaker. Chad loves connecting good people with other good people. He has dedicated his career to brands that are changing the world by helping nonprofits fund progress while also advancing Purpose in the workplace.