I am currently reading The World Beyond Your Head by Matthew B. Crawford. It is the kind of book that makes me feel smart and dumb. Smart, because it is such a difficult book, and dumb, because I really do not understand much of what he is talking about.
This quote, however, I understood.
We constantly underestimate how long it will take us to get things done, no matter how many times we have been surprised by this same fact in the past.
Can I get an Amen? You think you can knock out a task in an hour and are surprised when you look up 90 minutes later and there you are, still slaving away. Putting up the Christmas lights, driving downtown, getting out that report, any meeting ever convened--it always takes longer than you think it will.
It is that way with raising money. Here are two examples.
On paper you ought to be able to conduct a capital campaign for a moderate size church in three months. But you can't. It just takes longer than that. If you rush the process, too many members get to Commitment Sunday and are not ready to pledge. They needed more time. We recommend four to five months for a Church campaign and this assumes the church has a clear vision for the use of the funds. Once we worked with a church for six months prior to the campaign, helping them come up with a clearly articulated vision.
The private or silent phase of a non-profit campaign takes a year. There is a part of me that still wonders why that is so. But I know it is true. A case study must be drafted and consensus built. The Board needs coaching. Training of staff and key volunteers is time consuming. Big gifts require significant cultivation and multiple visits. A major responsibility of the consultant is to keep everyone on task--keep the ball moving down the field. But it still takes time.
A well-run campaign is time well spent. But it will probably take longer than you think.