I believe that every organization should conduct a capital campaign every ten years.
Because a capital campaign moves your organization ahead in a great many ways — only one of which is fundraising. And if you’re organization isn’t moving ahead, chances are good that it’s falling behind.
10 Year Capital Campaign Timeline
Ten years isn’t a random number. Here’s the way it lays out.
Year 1 — Greater Impact
Think ahead. And think big. Don’t just update your tired old strategic plan. Actually take some time to imagine more broadly about how to make a bigger difference in the world. What would it take?
Year 2 — Pre-Campaign Planning
Use the energy of your visioning and planning process to do some early campaign planning. You’ll develop your early campaign objectives and goals. You’ll start to shape your case for support, and you’ll draw the most important donors into the process.
Years 3 and 4 — Your Capital Campaign
It’ll take you about 2 years from start to finish. Take a look at this campaign timeline to see how it works.
Years 5, 6 and 7 — Collect Pledges and Start Your Project
Campaign gifts are often pledged over 3 years. While the money comes in, you can invest it to carry out your plan for growth.
Years 8, 9 and 10 — Grow and Stabilize
After every growth spurt, you need time to stabilize at the new higher level. During this time you can strengthen your relationships with your donors by showing them the impact their gifts have made.
Year 11 — Back to Year 1!
Yup. It’s time to start imagining the next growth spurt and start planning again.
The Trojan Horse Effect
Capital campaigns accomplish much more than money. The very idea that you could raise lots of money inspires you to think from abundance and to imagine how your organization might have more impact.
And, as our friend Nick Fellers reminds us, increased impact drives fundraising results. Not the other way around!
Bigger thinking provides all sorts of opportunities.
- You can invest in much needed infrastructure.
- You can build your development team and systems.
- You can weed out and then strengthen your board.
- You can invest in training people to raise money.
- You can build stronger relationships with your community leaders.
- You can draw your major donors in close.
A capital campaign is like a Trojan Horse. People think a campaign is just a way to raise lots of money. But in reality, it’s brim full of opportunities to transform your organization.
And if you do it right, the results will be amazing.
Don’t Wait Until You NEED the Money
Capital campaigns work best when they grow from a big vision. Don’t wait until you have to do a campaign because you need the money. Start planning now by imagining how your organization might have more impact.
If you’d like some help in early planning for your campaign, sign up now for a free strategy session for this September.