It’s well known that a capital campaign has many moving parts. These hearty fundraising efforts can be multi-year, multi-billion-dollar endeavors. Campaigns of this type are heavy lifts that take time and patience.
Successfully executing something of this magnitude calls for a partner – one that can walk with you the whole way. Remember: A capital campaign is like building a house, and at this point, you’ve done all the foundational work. The walls are up, it’s furnished, and now it’s time to move in and start living in it. Think of all the ways you get assistance when building a house. Architects, contractors, designers, painters, movers…you name it.
A fundraising campaign requires a similar amount of assistance. And your brand partner is one of the key seats that will aid your approach and elevate your execution.
What does a brand partner bring to your campaign?
Branding a capital campaign is a long-term commitment with many phases. First, discovery. Then, messaging and naming, visual strategy, building collateral, and finally: partnering. While we consider partnership the final “phase,” it’s really something that is a part of the entire branding process. A step you’ll rinse and repeat throughout the campaign.
From the beginning, a brand partner helps you hone your ideas, sculpting your campaign vision from a rough-hewn rock into a carefully chiseled piece of art. Your partner’s job is to take the practical information, objectives, and goals of your campaign, move them through the branding phases, answer your 10 questions and ultimately help you achieve results.
But don’t confuse a brand partner with your fundraising counsel. Both are vital, but they play very different roles. Fundraising counsel does the all-important technical work: the feasibility study, helping get your team campaign ready, and ultimately guiding your hand throughout the campaign.
But, a brand partner plugs in to make the entirety of the campaign come together and stick. Where the fundraising counsel coordinates technical efforts, the brand partner brings the campaign to life through words and images. It’s a symbiotic left-brain, right-brain partnership.
And while a campaign can survive without a brand partner, it won’t thrive.
How does a brand partner plug into your campaign?
Your brand partner holds important responsibilities before, during, and after your comprehensive or capital campaign. Each phase presents unique challenges, and your partner is there to help you troubleshoot and solve them.
In the campaign readiness phase…
You’ll be working on foundational aspects of your campaign. This is where a brand partner fits in to clarify the campaign vision.
In this phase, the brand partner helps you look ahead, plan the strategy, and figure out what kind of team you’ll need to support your efforts. Whether it’s messaging, creative, social media or event-focused, the brand partner is your visionary at the outset of the campaign. They’ll see the things you don’t — like how to make your campaign cohesive across different platforms, and how to get the messaging just right for each distinct group of donors.
As the campaign launches…
You’ll encounter two distinct phases as you build your campaign. The quiet phase is a soft-launch to a small group. In this phase, your brand partner will help translate your vision into the right messaging, visual strategy, and collateral as you begin blazing the fundraising trail.
In the public phase when the campaign hits a wider audience, your brand partner will take everything you’ve created and adapt it to the messaging and strategy for a larger, more public launch. Also, adjusting as the need for change arises. Campaigns can last a decade. It’s natural for priorities, messaging, and strategies to shift. Think how much the world has changed in the last 10 years.
Your partner makes sure you are ahead of the curve, so your campaign pivots just in time.
When the campaign ends…
You’ll want a partner to celebrate with! But beyond that, your campaign may be coming to a close, but you still have collateral and branding needs.
A brand partner will prioritize wrapping up your campaign elegantly and keeping it in the minds of supporters. Whether that takes shape as a gala to celebrate and thank supporters, or a direct mail campaign to show your gratitude to — and get final donations from — a wide audience, your brand partner will make sure the momentum of your campaign doesn’t end just because you’ve reached your goal.
A brand partner knows how to strategically garner continuous support from the community and turn casual supporters into advocates as the campaign wraps up.
After the campaign is complete…
Your brand partner will analyze your campaign — see what went well or what went wrong, and if anything could have been improved.
A post-campaign audit is essential to learn from your capital or comprehensive campaign, no matter how successful it was. A brand partner leverages those learnings and with your campaign counsel, helps you prepare for your next campaign.
When should you tap a brand partner?
Parisleaf’s clients have differing needs when it comes to working with a campaign partner. But what we see most often are clients who simply want a brand partner to walk with them throughout the campaign. That includes during the visioning stages.
Campaigns require many moving parts and buy-in from people with different roles and varying priorities. A brand partner is a constant — there for all your messaging, branding, and creative needs. So despite challenges, changes, or unforeseen circumstances, your campaign is polished and impactful.
For many capital and comprehensive campaigns under the million-dollar mark, budgeting may not allow for a brand partner. And we understand that and encourage you to make use of your budget with a fundraising counsel before you consider next steps.
But if you are in the position to bring on a brand partner that can take your campaign to the next level, here are the benefits that collaboration will offer:
Flexibility, when you need to pivot
Your brand partner is in charge of moving your campaign seamlessly through each phase. For multi-year efforts or decade-long projects, challenges will arise, priorities change, and your campaign will need to shift.
Changing the direction of a team is like steering a cruise ship. It’s doable, but not particularly quick and agile. With so many moving pieces, a brand partner anticipates and adjusts for challenges and changes as the campaign runs. This means you can be quick on your feet and have more control when you need to alter your course.
Cohesion, to keep your message strong
It’s important that your campaign is not only agile, but also cohesive. What good is a quick pivot if it’s no longer aligned with your core message? Your brand partner understands how to create a “home base” for your campaign and make sure that line runs through everything you do.
Your campaign’s moving parts will need something to keep them aligned and focused. Just as architects, contractors, electricians, and interior designers will all use the same blueprint as a starting point for their work, your campaign needs an element that holds everything together.
Like a house has a color palette, furniture, and decorations that work together to make it a beautiful home that reflects those living in it, your campaign needs a similar throughline to make it distinct and memorable to your donors and your team.
Your brand partner will find that cohesive element and be sure it never gets lost as your campaign runs its course.
Creativity, to make the biggest impact
An agile, cohesive campaign means nothing if your creative falls flat. This is a common challenge we see when standing up internal teams to develop and produce collateral.
It’s not hard to throw together a pitch deck or a leave-behind pamphlet, but it is hard to do it elegantly and in a way that resonates with your donors.
Collateral is the backbone of your campaign. An expert brand partner has experience guiding the creative process, and you can trust they’ll help you get the most impact out of each piece.
How it works
Parisleaf’s sole (and soul) focus is to make your capital campaign brand a success.
We eat, sleep, and breathe fundraising campaigns for nonprofits. We bring impactful, creative energy to everything we do, and it works.
When we were just starting to change how capital and comprehensive campaigns think about branding, we worked with a small college, with a fairly tight budget, to celebrate their 50th anniversary. The goal was to raise $2.5m to provide 50 scholarships. Our in-depth research uncovered a treasure trove of amazing accomplishments that the college wasn’t talking about enough.
Through our work, we re-framed how the community, students and staff perceived the college, and quadrupled the campaign’s projected goal. Not to mention the impact on the community — enrollment increased substantially with the right kind of students, so ultimately their graduation rates increased as well.
A brand partner is your missing piece
If you are in the early stages of planning a capital or comprehensive campaign, you probably already have a goal and an idea of where you’re headed. What you need now is help articulating that in a succinct way that lands, draws people in, and encourages action. A weak brand is forgettable. A strong brand gets internal buy-in and external support.
A campaign brand partner is a confidant that helps you navigate the challenges and opportunities of a campaign. If you need someone to lean on, get in touch and learn what working with a capital campaign brand partner looks like.