Recently, I was asked again what a non-profit organization should do about announcing that a fund-raising campaign is racing toward its goal at a record-setting pace. It’s a question asked more often than one might think.

If you’ve got a positive story to tell, especially one of community support, you tell it, right? The reality is that I have known many campaign leaders who have wanted to downplay their success during the campaign. Some have even wanted to under announce results. Why?

They believed that their organization would have difficulty maintaining a continuous flow of funds once they announced that 50% or 75% of the goal had been reached. Some have thought it necessary to project a crisis atmosphere in order to keep the “need” front and center.

Some have believed that people wouldn’t give unless the “wolf was at the door.” In reality, making donors and volunteers think a campaign is in crisis, can actually cause support to falter. We all know the expression, “Don’t throw good money after bad.” A campaign or an organizaion perceived to be on the road to failure is more likely to lose support and energy.

Others have feared that good news could slow or even halt donations. That people would think, “They don’t need my money?” What those campaign leaders didn’t appreciate is the fact that success breeds more success. The philanthropic spirit is infectious. If most of the people around you are giving, it’s hard not to make a contribution yourself. People want to support winning causes. Prospective donors have their intent strengthened by good news. Volunteers doing the asking are encouraged by it.

It has long been a common practice for organizations to publicize their ongoing fund-raising campaigns with “thermometers,” charts, newsletters, gift tables, where-we-are-to-date graphics, and press releases. There are good reasons to share good news and to show a steady march to success. People give when they believe their gift will have a positive impact. Those working on a campaign are energized by the successes their efforts produce.

So, what’s a non-profit to do about announcing the successes of a campaign during the campaign? I say tell the world about them. Let everyone know the good news when you have it. It’s just the encouragement your campaign volunteers and prospective donors need to finish strong.

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