Ready for a Capital Campaign? 6 Key Aspects to ConsiderBy Amy Eisenstein
Capital campaigns are multi-year undertakings with the potential to completely reshape your nonprofit’s ability to pursue its mission. They’re intensive projects, and we’re continuing to experience an uncertain fundraising landscape.
This means you’ll need to carefully consider if your nonprofit is truly ready to take the dive before investing heavily in planning your campaign.
Here are six key aspects to consider as you weigh your capital campaign options.
1. Board Activeness
A highly engaged board is a must for capital campaigns. As you consider your campaign readiness, ask these questions about your board:
While board members don’t necessarily always contribute financially (this may vary based on your nonprofit’s unique circumstances), they should actively contribute in other ways to lead different aspects of your campaign.
2. Volunteer Leadership
Like your board, other volunteers will be invaluable teammates during a capital campaign. Examine your current volunteer processes and consider these questions:
Capital campaign volunteers can take on a variety of roles throughout each stage of your campaign, so carefully consider who you’ll enlist and what they might do.
3. Donor Prospecting
Gifts from major donors will make up the vast majority of your campaign’s total funding, so you can’t afford to not give your prospecting process some early thought and attention. Try to answer these questions:
Donor prospecting and the quiet phase are crucial parts of a capital campaign. If you can’t currently identify donors who have both the ability and affinity to give major gifts, a capital campaign may not be the best choice right now.
4. Development Logistics
Along with a reliable pipeline of prospective donors, you’ll need a solid major gifts program and development team to develop those relationships and make solicitations. Consider these essentials:
Intensive campaigns require organized structures and processes to succeed. Capital campaigns can be the perfect opportunity to revamp or upgrade how your nonprofit works internally.
5. Campaign Planning and Messaging
How you present your campaign to various audiences will play a critical role in its success. You’ll need to develop an impactful case for support, but you’ll first need to ensure you can answer these questions:
As detailed in this Capital Campaign Toolkit guide, a capital campaign’s case for support should be a clear and compelling set of ideas to motivate donors to give. Hammering out these details very early in the planning process will make it easier to refine your case for support as the campaign evolves.
6. Public Image
Finally, your nonprofit’s public image and community relationships will play a direct role in your campaign’s feasibility. As part of your initial readiness assessment, ask questions like:
Getting a firm grasp on your organization’s public image during the planning process will help you determine how receptive a broader audience will be to your campaign.
It pays to be as prepared as possible when it comes to time- and resource-intensive projects like capital campaigns. A readiness assessment is the first essential step for any organization considering this type of campaign.
To get started, enlist key leaders from your staff and board, and compile their thoughts on each of the questions listed above. Discuss your findings, trends, strengths, and problem areas together to lay out a pre-campaign roadmap.
Amy Eisenstein, ACFRE, is CEO and co-founder of the Capital Campaign Toolkit. A veteran fundraising consultant with more than 20 years of experience in the nonprofit sector, she’s published a number of books, including Major Gift Fundraising for Small Shops.