How to Hold a Campaign Retrospective

4 min
Image of hand holding pencil examining charts
Ellie Burke
Ellie Burke

You work hard to ensure your campaigns are successful. But inevitably, each come with their own challenges and triumphs. To capture key learnings and implement them for future campaign iterations, you can hold a campaign retrospective with your team.

Campaign retrospectives allow you to reflect and get your entire team on the same page after a campaign. They also serve to aggregate and store important information all in one place. This is especially helpful if you run annual campaigns year after year.

Whether you use PowerPoint or another platform, here’s some guidance on how to host this meeting, and what to include in your slide deck.

Who to Invite

The size of the campaign will likely determine the number of team members you invite to your debrief. A physical meeting ensures everyone digests the information. You can even take measures to promote a focused space, such as asking everyone to stay off of their laptops and cell phones during your time together. One study even found that students who took notes by hand versus a laptop had higher conceptual recall of knowledge.

Consider what key stakeholders would benefit from the learnings of your campaign, and if the information is pertinent enough to warrant a meeting with the full team, invite the whole kit and caboodle. Have the campaign manager present the deck, or ask leads to present on their own individual slides.

To execute the meeting in timely fashion, ask that participants practice their slides and keep to a set number of minutes.

What to Include

Include the following sections in your meeting to ensure a thorough analysis of your campaign efforts. We’ll break down what to include in each section below.

  • Agenda
  • Executive Summary (write this last)
  • Campaign Overview
  • Contributing Team’s Performance
  • Time for Questions
  • Appendix

1. Agenda

Your meeting agenda should include dedicated time slots for each topic. Be sure to send the agenda out within your meeting invite to prevent catching anyone off-guard, and to ensure that everyone is clear on the meeting’s purpose and goals.

2. Executive Summary

Your executive summary slide will include an overview of the entire campaign’s process, results, and learnings. It’s best to write this slide last, after you’ve gathered inputs and results from the rest of your team. In essence, anyone should be able to read this single slide and have a sound understanding of the key performance indicators and whether or not the campaign was a success.

3. Campaign Overview

This section is the meat and potatoes of your entire presentation. These slides would typically be owned/presented by the campaign manager. Where applicable, they should touch on:

  • Original goals
  • Timeline
  • Press
  • Key partners and sponsors
  • Donor demographics
  • Key donors (perhaps donors that gave over a designated amount)
  • Qualitative feedback from your audience
  • Quantitative results (impressions, tickets sold, donations received, etc.)
  • Highlights and recommendations on how to achieve similar results in the future
  • Challenges and recommendations on how to avoid similar struggles in the future

Though this section covers quite a bit, remember that you don’t need to write out a novel in your presentation. Use bullets with as few words as possible and include more detailed notes in the sections beneath your slides, or in your appendix.

4. Each Contributing Team’s Performance

After your campaign overview, you’ll next want to ask leads to present their success metrics for their respective areas.

Depending on how many teams the campaign touched, you might ask the following people to present their findings:

  • Development
  • Marketing
  • Finance
  • Programs

In addition to success metrics, ask that each sub-team include their key learnings (what worked well? What didn’t?) and recommendations for moving forward.

5. Any Questions?

Once each team has presented, you’ll likely end your presentation with a slide asking for questions and general feedback. One way to encourage more discussion and feedback would be to move the questions slide to the start of your deck and use it to preface the entire meeting.

Instead of waiting until the end, when your team members’ attention spans are wavering, ask them to speak up as the meeting takes place and ask questions along the way. This will help to keep the room engaged and prevent you from droning on to a room of placid faces.

6. Appendix, Supplementary Data, and Graphics

Lastly, it’s helpful to include links to key documents and resources at the end of your slide deck. If you had supplementary data or graphs that weren’t appropriate to go through from a timing perspective, include them here so that others can dive into them now, or in the future for the campaign’s next iteration.

 

When you take the time to review the performance of your campaigns in detail, you set your organization up to learn and grow. You also protect your campaigns from the trials of inevitable staff turnover. With thorough campaign analysis you ensure key learnings live on and exist in a formal place to be passed on to the next campaign manager.


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