Posted on

Creating a campaign budget

What are some “best practices” for building an adequate, accurate campaign budget?

When creating a campaign budget, we first stress the importance of careful accounting for all true campaign expenses. Doing so will give your organization the best picture for your campaign’s return on investment and will also help you truthfully answer a question donors often raise.

Campaigns are very labor-intensive. As such, personnel costs are by far the item of greatest expense in a campaign—often more than half of total costs incurred.

Here are the general categories often used in preparing a campaign budget (reference: Indiana University Center on Philanthropy):

a. Personnel

  • Development director
  • CEO
  • Consultant
  • Support staff

b. Communications

  • Brochures
  • Videos
  • Website
  • Newsletters

c. Research

  • Outside firm for grant research, prospect research

d. Special events

  • Kick-off event
  • Fundraising events

e. Printing

  • Letterhead, envelopes
  • Invitations
  • Pledge cards

f. Donor stewardship, recognition

  • Plaques
  • Special events for major donors

g. Volunteer training and support

  • Hospitality
  • Recognition
  • Training materials

h. Contingency

As a rule of thumb, the smaller the campaign goal the higher the percentage required for campaign expenditures. That’s because every campaign has both fixed and variable expenses, and the fixed costs—for example, new software that may be needed—are not affected by the dollars to be raised. Total campaign expenses may range from four to 15 percent of the goal.



Posted on

Budgeting for professional counsel

How can I justify hiring a consultant when money is tight?

We prefer to think of hiring a consultant as an investment versus an expense; that is, the cost must be weighed against what your organization stands to gain. A worthwhile consultant offers valuable skills and expertise that might be under-developed or untested within your own personnel. Additionally consultants provide objective analysis, accountability for tasks and deadlines, staff and volunteer training and access to other professionals. These are crucial ingredients for a well-run and successful advancement project.

Organizations who are unfamiliar with the consulting process and operating on an already tight budget will likely think twice about hiring professional counsel, especially during times of economic uncertainty. But “worth their weight in gold” describes those consultants who not only offer practical advice and skills, but who also share your values, embrace your mission and become trusted friends throughout the process.