The Patterson Foundation's Legacy of Valor campaign is in full swing and will continue to honor veterans and their families in Southwest Florida through the dedication of Patriot Plaza, the 1.83-acre ceremonial amphitheater at the Sarasota National Cemetery in 2014.
As part of the Legacy of Valor, TPF recently partnered with 12 nonprofit organizations for a joint fundraising effort called the Unified Legacy of Valor Opportunity. This was a unique fund-development approach where 12 nonprofit organizations worked together on a common campaign, and each did so while maintaining its own identity and its outreach with respective donors.
Since all 12 organizations unified around a common theme, TPF was able to leverage the communications opportunity by promoting the campaign itself. Through our Legacy of Valor media partners --- including radio, broadcast and print -- the campaign positioned the 12 participating organizations to reach out to current and prospective donors.
The opportunity was created so that we (TPF) could go “deeper” in our partnerships with many of our Legacy of Valor campaign partners, broaden our partnership with The Giving Partner -- an online platform that helps donors make informed decisions --, and test a new model for fundraising.
This campaign was by invitation, and we developed criteria for inviting organizations to participate:
• Had to be a current Legacy of Valor partner
• Have an updated profile on The Giving Partner
• Had a program which supported those who have, are or will serve in our nation's military
Once we identified the organizations meeting these parameters, we offered each the opportunity to participate – we gave them the option.
(Now some people might ask who would say no to a foundation. We understand this, which is why we outlined the expectations for participating and explained that this campaign should complement the mission of the organization and not detract from it.)
There would be no fallout for non-participation. (One of the benefits of The Patterson Foundation not having grant cycles is that nonprofit organizations don’t have to fear upsetting a funder.)
Once the 12 organizations confirmed their interest, we hosted a half-day strategy session explaining the TPF match and the publicity campaign, offering a communications working session filled with talking points on positioning the match, strategies to engage volunteers, timelines to map out when to share this news with different audiences and more.
We also asked each organization to establish a “can do” and a “stretch” goal. (TPF created its match limit by finding the total of all 12 can-do goals.)
By having all organizations together discussing the campaign and focusing on their own “can-do” goal, we were all able to share good ideas, areas of concern and gain a better understanding of each other.
To support the effort throughout the campaign and to encourage the sharing of ideas, we hosted weekly phone calls among the participants (volunteer, not mandatory).
So what have we learned?
• It is possible for a funder to help different organizations succeed under a common campaign
• Donors often give to multiple organizations, so no single organization “owns” a donor
• It is possible to successfully blend the mission and capacity of organizations
• Organizations can maintain their "uniqueness" while still participating as part of a larger group
• Foundations can use money to get organizations to come to the table, and there is value in this. There is also value in capacity accelerating functions like strategic communications. Putting the two together creates significant momentum.
• There are no limits to creative thinking
• It helps to have a collective and individual fundraising goals
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