Conducting Successful Capital Campaigns
What’s the planning process for conducting a capital campaign? It’s not as simple as asking your major donors for more money. In fact, this can backfire and have major negative consequences for your nonprofit organization, future fundraising endeavors, and capital campaigns.
Private educational institutions and nonprofits use capital campaigns to raise money for something they believe will bring value to the community, usually in the form of concrete projects such as building construction or purchasing land or supplies. Because of the large nature of these purchases, some capital campaigns can span multiple years.
There are three phases to successful capital campaigns: the planning phase, the quiet phase, and the public phase.
How do you know you can raise the money you need?
It can be scary for any Christian school or ministry to embark on a capital campaign. Are you sure you can raise the amount you need? How long will it take to raise the necessary funds? The Champion Group will help you answer these questions while we walk you through our proven process with experienced consultants.
Components Strengthened by Capital Campaigns
The Planning Phase
During the planning phase, consult with your Development team to create a strategic plan, conduct a feasibility study, and establish a planning committee.
Capital Campaign Planning Committee
The campaign chair, capital campaign committee members, and steering committee members should be decided early, as they will be in charge of ensuring specific tasks are completed throughout the campaign such as:
- Creating an organized capital campaign plan
- Figuring out top major gift leads
- Scheduling a press conference
- Conducting prospect research
- Major gift solicitation
- Finding online campaign resources
As a part of the strategic plan, the capital campaign committee will be in charge of creating a communication strategy to spread the word about the campaign and encourage donors to be excited about what’s to come. Fruitful capital campaigns include a mixture of digital and direct communication such as email, direct mail, and social media.
They’ll also need to facilitate the creation of a website with proper fundraising software for the campaign to provide progress reports, special news,
How Does Strategic Planning Affect Capital Campaigns?
Know Your Capital Campaign “Why”
It’s important to clearly communicate why you need what you’re fundraising for and why it matters. Whether it be a new building, gym, or uniforms, your why helps define your vision, and it’s an important part of the strategic plan for your own campaign. This is developed during the capital campaign planning phase.
Define the Vision for Your Strategic Plan
Potential donors will want to know the answers to all of the following questions when you’re making your case for support:
- Will the money you raise for your capital campaign be used effectively?
- Why do you need what you’re spending the money on?
- Who is it going to impact and how will it benefit them?
- What is your capital campaign fundraising goal?
Why Does Your Strategic Plan Need a Vision?
People give to vision, not projects. What you buy is not your vision—it’s what helps you accomplish your vision. Show donors why your capital campaigns deserve their support.
Developing a Strategic Plan
Developing a comprehensive strategic plan for your nonprofit’s capital campaign can be a challenge. The Champion Group offers strategic planning as one of our client services to help nonprofits raise money and accomplish their fundraising goals.
When developing a strategic plan for a successful capital campaign, you’ll want to include an establishished fundraising strategy; determine fundraising events; and define your campaign goals, campaign period, and projected campaign expenses.
Conducting a Feasibility Study
The feasibility study is one of the first steps to ensuring your campaign is successful, and it has two parts.
Part 1: Internal
The first part of the feasibility study for your capital campaign is internal. Your capital campaign consultant, in this case The Champion Group, will perform a readiness assessment of your organization to see how much support, or possibly lack thereof, you’ll receive from your own team.
This involves interviewing leadership and board members to identify any major, internal obstacles before launching the campaign. These interviews show where ideas are aligned and where there are dissenting opinions. This is also insightful because board members and leadership are donor-facing; they can enlighten us as to whether there is friction with any donors and any fractures within the organization.
Part 2: External
The second part of the feasibility study for your capital campaign is external and more extensive. As your capital campaign consultants, we’ll establish critical questions; define your target audience; and conduct interviews (phone and in-person), surveys (face-to-face, written, and online), and focus groups with key stakeholders in the community. This helps establish a feasible monetary goal and timeline.
What’s at Stake?
The main goal of feasibility studies is to tell you if you can raise the amount you need for your capital campaign and how much time it will take. And although it’s not an exact science, it is better than going in blind.
As we’re conducting the feasibility study, we’re naturally building a case for your support. Donors and stakeholders are more likely to give major gifts more repetitively when they feel seen and heard. If they’re not and you don’t communicate the vision for your campaign, you could possibly exhaust your donor base.
This leaves you stuck with no one else to go to for fundraising, and you run the risk of not meeting your campaign goals and needing to extend your capital campaign timeline. This goes for capital campaigns for small nonprofits and larger nonprofits.
Our goal as your fundraising consultant, is to help you raise funds and reach your campaign goal every time, so you can keep making the world a better place.
The Quiet Phase
The quiet phase is actually when you’ll start focusing on fundraising efforts by hosting major donor events and collecting corporate partnerships. But before you do, make sure you have a high-quality brochure. All capital campaigns need a brochure with consistent branding that includes impact statements, high-quality images, donation impacts, etc.—basically a summary of the information that can be found on the website.
Major Events and Corporate Partnerships
When done correctly, you should be able to collect 50–70% of your capital campaign’s fundraising goal from major events and corporate partnerships. As the name implies, major donor events should bring in major gifts. These events are also a great way to connect with donors and build personal connections that last.
Corporate sponsorships are an advantageous way to more reach your capital campaign goal faster. A lot of companies set aside a certain amount of money every year for philanthropic efforts. These include challenge grants, matching gifts, and corporate sponsorships.
The Public Phase
Many organizations try to generate buzz for capital campaigns around their campaign kick off as a way to get smaller donors engaged in the beginning and then participate in peer-to-peer fundraising or crowdfunding online.
Kick Off Phase
Kick off event ideas can include a concert, gala, running or walkathon, a tournament—anything that gives people a reason to come together. This will also double as a fundraising event for the capital campaign. Throughout the kick off, give updates online so attendees can keep up with the progress being made.
Don’t forget to thank your donors! Develop a donor stewardship strategy to show them how much you appreciate their support and keep them engaged with your cause. Strategy ideas can include personally updating them on your capital campaign progress, inviting them to a campaign celebration once you reach your goal, and creating impact videos to show that their support made a difference and helped you reach your goal.
If your nonprofit or private school needs help conducting a capital campaign, give us a call. We would love to help you make a difference in your community!
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