For many United Ways, campaign season is now in full swing. The pacesetter campaigns are in the books and everyone gets to celebrate a campaign kickoff overflowing with energy and optimism, ripe with opportunity and potential. Campaign thermometers once again bloom throughout town and Live United posters appear in the windows of local employers. Employees are inundated with information about how to win a car, or a motorcycle, or tickets to the big game – just be sure to participate in the workplace campaign. Everywhere you look, it’s campaign season – you can’t miss it!
If you ask the average person, which is something we do all the time in our research work, they will tell you that their local United Way is a fundraiser. There are some people who have no idea what United Way is or does, but for those average people with an idea about what United Way does, most say fundraising. And why does the average person think their local United Way is a fundraiser? Because United Ways do a great job of promoting campaign season.
The message most United Ways send during campaign season is “Give to United Way.” Sure, your campaign brochure might list programs or partner agencies funded by United Way, or even have a story or two about someone helped by a United Way program. But, at the top and bottom of your campaign brochure, and at the beginning and end of your campaign video, the message is clear – “Give to United Way.” And, if someone doesn’t have a chance to read your campaign brochure, or see your campaign video, then they are probably even more likely to think “Give to United Way” because they can’t escape your campaign goal plastered on thermometers all over town.
The fundraising message is delivered loud and clear each year during campaign season. Yet, we question why people don’t get United Way. We are frequently frustrated when they don’t understand what we do. I would suggest that they understand all too well what we do, because of campaign season.
But, campaign season will end in a dozen weeks or mere two or three months. Then what? If summer follows spring, and fall follows summer, then what season follows campaign season? After spending months on end planning for campaign season, what are you planning for when campaign season is over?
My suggestion would be to start planning today for RESULTS season. Results season should be the season that follows campaign season. Spend the months following campaign season communicating results, clearly communicating to your donors and the community the results of contributions to United Way. Share your results with the same energy and intensity you use to promote campaign. Everywhere you look, it should be results season – make sure your donors and community can’t miss it.
The message for results season is simple – this is our issue, these are the actions we are taking to address the issue, and these are our results. This message needs to be delivered loud and clear during results season. In our research with donors, they want to hear about your issue, actions, and results.
As important as campaign season might be now, results season is just as important, and perhaps even more important than campaign season. If your community and donors do not know your results, why will they want to participate in your campaign? Get started on results season today, because it will be here before you know it.