The Life of a Campaign
As the year progresses, University development officers will begin reaching out to larger groups of alumni to discuss the campaign. At some point, around the end of the year, the campaign’s quiet phase will begin.
“Over the course of the calendar year we’ll be beginning to step up the efforts,” says Donella Rapier, vice president for alumni affairs and development. “There’s no real bright line” for the start of the campaign.
During the quiet phase, which typically takes about two years of a seven-year campaign, the University lines up major contributions from its largest donors and solicits advice from many alumni, Rapier says.
“There’s nothing quiet about the quiet phase,” she says. “You talk about it a lot.”
Typically, institutions will try to raise 30 to 40 percent of their total goal before they go public. Because the campaign will have such a large goal, raising 30 to 40 percent may force the quiet period to be extended, according to Rapier.
The campaign will transition into the public phase with a heavily-publicized kickoff, announcing the fundraising progress to date. During the public phase, developers emphasize broad participation—distributing fundraising materials to thousands of alumni—rather than larger gifts.
During the quiet phase, the University will be steering the campaign and finishing planning, including the target amount and the major goals, while an alumni board will steer the campaign in its public phase.
In a campaign that will be very focused on University-wide priorities, the University Development Office faces the challenge of operating with an antiquated, decentralized donor database.
Rapier says she is aiming for an “extremely fast” transition to a new, more centralized computer system.
She says she hopes to complete the changeover in 18 months.
But in the meanwhile, she says, development officers will have to work off both the old and new systems.
“There will be a while when it will be uncomfortable and people will hate it,” she says.
—Staff writer Stephen M. Marks can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.