Measure Twice, Cut Once

Measure Twice, Cut Once

June 18th, 2010

by Dan Schipp

“Measure twice, cut once.”  That phrase seemed to be Ted Grossnickle’s mantra during the years he served as counsel for a $40 million campaign at Saint Meinrad Archabbey and Seminary when I was vice president for development there.  In fact, if I had collected a dollar from him every time I heard that admonition, I would have accumulated the lead gift for our campaign!

Ted was (and still is) a stickler for good, solid planning.  Under his and Angela White’s guidance, Saint Meinrad spent more than a year putting together a detailed plan for our campaign, including a case for support, five-year financial model, timetable, campaign structure, volunteer role descriptions, communications plan, budget, financing policy, gift table, gift acceptance  and recognition policies, and criteria for judging the success of the campaign.  We involved volunteers, Saint Meinrad leadership, and development staff in this extensive planning process.

At the end of our successful campaign, we conducted a formal evaluation of it.  We sought to learn what we did well and what we could have done better. 

Our volunteers told us that our in-depth planning was key to building their confidence in Saint Meinrad and in their ability to succeed in the campaign.  They said it was an aid to them when we encountered some rough spots in the campaign – 9/11 (just two months after launching the campaign), the drastic downturn in the economy, the sex scandals in the Roman Catholic Church, and the suicide of one of the Seminary’s top administrators.  The volunteers said our planning gave them something to fall back on during these tough times.  It steadied them.  It reassured them.

Although our pre-campaign planning involved a considerable investment of time and resources, it certainly paid dividends for us.  Planning well and executing the plan enabled us to achieve a level of philanthropic investment that more than a few people considered unlikely prior to the campaign.

As you go about preparations for your campaign, are you “measuring twice and cutting once”?

Let Dan know how helpful  Meaure Twice, Cut Once  is for your organization and share your results by posting in the JGA comments section below.

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