Wednesday, May 30, 2012

After the Campaign Winds Down – What Next?

I have come to the end of a road in my job as a prospect researcher. A place I have never been. Western Kentucky University’s $200 million “A New Century of Spirit” Campaign will close at the end of our fiscal year on June 30, 2012.

I am one of many in our division of development and alumni relations who cannot believe we have finally reached this end. This milestone. This finish line. Without revealing details (we are sworn to secrecy on the final number), we can definitely call it a success.

This is the second capital campaign undertaken by WKU. Our first capital campaign closed on June 30, 2003, with $102 million in gifts and pledges. Our “A New Century of Spirit” campaign followed with a public launch in September 2007.

When I joined the staff in July 2005 we were in the midst of the second campaign’s silent phase. As prospect researchers, you know that even though the word may not be out to the public, hard work hums along behind the scenes – we still identify and rate prospects, prepare briefs and bios, and perform all other prospect research and management duties.

So, I began my journey on the prospect research road in the midst of this second campaign. I had to hit the ground running, learn on the fly, and just go with it. (I know many of you can relate to that sentiment every day!)

While I have learned a lot over the seven (!) years I have been at WKU, I feel like I am still just beginning to wade into the pool (or is it better to describe it as an ocean?) of prospect research. Yes, there is still so much to learn. Including what happens when reaching this place in the campaign road.

As this campaign winds down, I certainly have a smile on my face for the good work done and what we have accomplished. However, along with that sigh of satisfaction a wrinkle crosses my brow and a question invades my mind.

“What next?”

My boss and I have a list of changes we want to make to our systems and processes. I know we will continue in our prospect research and management duties as fundraising will definitely go on.

I know another campaign is in WKU’s future. But until it’s announced and we are in campaign mode once again, we have another kind of “silent phase” – one in which much work still needs to be accomplished. With all that to think about, questions continually pop to mind.

So, in an effort to get a grasp on this new place I have reached as a prospect researcher, what it means and what to do next, I throw some of these questions out to you colleagues who have been down this road:

  • What have you done at the end of a campaign?
  • What changes have you made?
  • What processes have you established or eliminated?
  • What preparations have you made to be ready for the next campaign?

While WKU has a two person shop, I would love to hear from anyone no matter the size of your operation. Although we may work for different sizes and types of institutions, prospect research and management is something we all do.

I am excited to learn from you. And if I learn something along the way, I’ll be sure and share it while we wait for the next WKU campaign to begin.

Theresa Clark, Board Advisor, Western Kentucky University

1 comment:

  1. Theresa, I love how you feel like an old friend and certainly a peer. I too am at the end of a campaign, although I've been here before; three times before. I haven't been successful with end-of-the-campaign strategy. I'm a one-person shop and little time for anything progressive although that is exactly what I want to do. I sent out a Development Officer (10 officers) survery which resulted in reformatting the profile. I asked for additional resources but the $ was denied. I would be very interested in hearing what responses you get. Shelby Radcliffe at Occidental College is the best speaker I've heard on campaign everything.
    Also Theresa, I'm the VP of APRA-UNY as well as a Copy Editor for our quarterly newsletter. We would love to have you write an article for us on the topic of your choice regarding prospect research and fundraising. We love to hear from others in the field outside of NYS. Please consider this invitation. Thank you, Patti
    Director of Development Research, Hamilton College