Using Scrum in a Capital Campaign Process

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I’ve always enjoyed following about the work of Alice Ferris and her team at GoalBusters Consulting, *especially* following along on her team’s travels and dining experiences related to the wide range of topics they speak about on the different #GoalBustersWorldTour trips. Last year, you can imagine my excitement when I happened to catch a post on social media about a presentation where she was talking about Scrum to fundraisers. I was thrilled that long-time social media friend Alice agreed to chat with Jessica Crowley and I about her experiences using Scrum.


The example that Alice shared with Jessica and me was how the Lowell Observatory team of 10 is using Scrum to manage a comprehensive $54 million campaign. You can learn more about the work of Goal Busters and this particular campaign in this first clip:


As to be expected when talking with Alice, there were some great sound bites and nuggets (you can tell she has a background working with public broadcasting!) came out when we asked her to talk about how she has found Agile principles and the Scrum framework working to bring about collaboration and efficiency.


“The things I really value about Agile planning models…is the fact that silos are pretty much nonexistent in this model. I can’t afford to have silos in this large of a campaign.” 

“The handoffs of a particular donor or particular relationship happen a lot more quickly using an Agile planning model as no one feels like this is “my” person….instead, we are focused on an outcome as a team and how we can hit the outcome in a short period of time.” – Alice Ferris


You can hear the full answer to Jessica’s question in this next video clip:


Alice has such a breadth of experience having worked with such a wide range of organizations around the world on their fundraising, so we were curious to know what her thoughts were about why nonprofits and nonprofit support professionals like fundraising consultants would be interested in the idea of Sprints regardless of whether they were fully implementing the Scrum framework or not.


“One of the reasons the Sprint concept is so attractive to nonprofits is because we have so much to accomplish.” – Alice Ferris


You can watch the rest of Alice’s response to this question about Sprints here:


I was so curious to hear what Alice would give as advice for nonprofits looking at Agile principles and the Scrum framework. When I asked her about how she would recommend a nonprofit learn more or get started. Her advice was so practical!


“Take a little bite at a time. The worst thing that happens is that you try something out and it doesn’t work, and then you stop doing it.

I encourage people…just go ahead and try it. ‘How badly can this turn out?’ as my partner Jim likes to say. If you do two weeks and you don’t get done what you thought you could get done, you have gotten something done, and you’ll learn from it.” – Alice Ferris


You can see the full interview with Alice here:


What questions do you have about using the Scrum framework to help meet your capital campaign goals? We’d love to help! Share your comments and questions in the comments section and our team will be sure to answer and help you with implementing the Scrum framework in your team.