Capital Campaigns #13: Campaign Publicity

Sections of this topic

    Publicity is an important part of any extended campaign … serving many purposes.
    • Multiple opportunities to tell how the Project
    will benefit the community
    • Public recognition to the Institutional and
    Campaign Leaders, and selected donors
    • Creating and maintaining community

    There must, however, be specific conditions and a strict timetable for the release of information.

    If a goal is not reached, if the campaign fails, then the message everybody gets is that the NPO’s leadership does not have its act together and that people probably shouldn’t trust them with their money. The whole point, therefore, of not announcing or suggesting a campaign is to avoid a public failure.

    If you have a significant percentage of the goal already committed and you KNOW (not hope) where the rest is coming from, then it’s safe to make “announcements,” but not before then.

    Most publicity that a Campaign gets will be “old news,” but it will be the first time the public gets to hear it.

    The official announcement (first press release) is about the person who has volunteered to Chair the Campaign and who has made a significant (pace-setting) commitment. That release, and most subsequent publicity, will also include some stock wording about the Project the Campaign will fund … why the community needs that Project, or how the community will benefit.

    Keep in mind, that this is the first “announcement” of any kind to be made regarding the Campaign. No mention is made at this point of how much has been raised. The impression to be created is that the process of assembling the leadership is only just beginning, and the only mention of dollars is about The Goal.

    Statements of total dollars raised or the posting of a “campaign thermometer,” are not made until well into the Public Phase.

    Publicity, for the most part, focuses on people … the leaders, the work they’re doing to ensure Campaign success, what they’ve accomplished so far, and (as appropriate – and with their permission) the actual commitment they’ve made toward the Campaign Goal.

    The next series of announcements, one at a time and at the appropriate time, are about the people who have volunteered to lead various Divisions, how all of the Board Members have made commitments … totaling $XXXXX, and how successful each of the Divisions has been, dollar-wise.

    All of that publicity spread out over the Public Phase of the Campaign, maintains enthusiasm, and begins to give recognition to the Campaign leadership and some of the major donors who got the Campaign off to a running start.


    Have a comment or a question about starting or expanding your basic fundraising program, your major gifts fundraising program, or a capital campaign? Email me at With over 30 years of counseling in major gifts, capital campaigns, bequest programs, and the planning studies to precede these three, we’ll likely be able to answer your questions.