There are books, blogs, podcasts, articles, and consultants who will tell you all they think you should know about capital campaigns. So, it’s important to do your research, use several sources, talk with your peers about their capital campaigns and then educate your leadership.
Is Your Organization Ready?
One of the first questions often asked is, “How do we know when we’re ready for a capital campaign?” There are some basic elements your organization should have before you consider a capital campaign. Here are a few examples:
Does your organization have a clear statement of mission, vision, and values?
Does your organization have a strong annual fund in place with diversified revenue streams?
Does your board of directors and leadership agree on the campaign’s objectives?
Does your organization have a strong history of major gift support?
Does your organization have an involved, contributing governing board?
Do you have a strategic plan?
There are other elements, but this gives you an idea of what needs to be in place.
Will A Capital Campaign Take Away From Our Annual Fund?
No, but your communications must make a clear distinction between the two. The annual funds pay for the ongoing operations and capital funds move the organization to a new level. A gift to one does not cancel out a gift to the other. Another option is to combine your annual fundraising with your capital campaign and have a “comprehensive campaign.” This is a common strategy among colleges and universities.
Who Will Support A Capital Campaign?
A successful capital campaign depends on well-cultivated donors and volunteers who have been engaged with your annual giving program. A gift range chart will help you see how many prospective donors and gifts you need at different levels to be successful.
Do We Need A Consultant?
Look at your current development staffing structure. Do you have someone with previous capital campaign experience? Do you have the availability to shoulder a project that will effectively double your workload? Keep in mind that your executive director/CEO and Development Director will both be heavily involved in the capital campaign. You’ll need someone to guide those efforts, so your campaign doesn’t get stalled.
The bottom line when considering a capital campaign is to evaluate the capacity of your organization, including your board; have a strategic plan as the cornerstone for your campaign; and build a strong team of committed consultants, volunteers and staff.
Michelle Crim, CFRE
Dynamic Development Strategies can help. We offer coaching, grant writing, and fundraising services for our nonprofit clients. We specialize in small to mid-size organizations because we understand your challenges. Please contact us for more information.