This post is step one of a four-step roadmap for your capital campaign planning. As part of this series, step one is all about possibility and impact.
“What Should We Raise Capital Campaign Money For?”
If a capital campaign is in your future, you should be thinking about what you’ll want to raise money for now! This planning phase is the time for vision and courage and audacious thinking. It’s the time to imagine what might be!
Begin by thinking big.
Before you go very far in planning your capital campaign, you’ve got to figure out what you’re going to raise money for. And that should be based on a brave, inspired vision of what it will take for your organization to make a bigger difference in the world.
Translate your vision.
Then, you’ve got to translate that vision into a list of things your campaign will raise money for. In campaign lingo, we refer to these as “campaign objectives.” Once you have a sense of what they include for your campaign, you’ll attach costs to each of them that add up to your campaign’s working goal.
Establish your campaign’s working goal.
What’s a working goal? It’s another tidbit of campaign lingo.
Your “working goal” is the dollar figure you will use during the early stages of your campaign. It’s sort of like a draft goal that you’ll be able to move up or down as you learn more about what is possible. But don’t start with a conservative sense of what you think is possible. Start with your organization’s big vision.
Deciding What to Include in Your Capital Campaign
Though the incentive for your campaign might be a building project — either new construction or renovation — it’s short-sighted to stop there. If you’re going to the effort of having a capital campaign, you’d better think as big and broadly as you can.
Here’s a list of other things you might include in your campaign:
- Land purchase and construction
- Architectural design and renderings and model
- Equipment, signage and furnishings
- Donor recognition plaques
- Cost of all fundraising expenses
- All costs associated with moving out of and into the new space
- Ramp up costs for the new and expanded programs
- Endowed scholarships
- Building maintenance funds
- Capacity building (not including on-going operations)
- Interim financing
- Mortgage payoff**
* Most endowment growth is in “board restricted” funds that are treated like true endowment.
** This is a tough one, but some people are passionate about it.
Of course, only some of these items will be appropriate for your organization. In fact, you may have other things to raise money for that aren’t on this list.
The point is to start your planning by thinking broadly about all of the things you might raise money for through your campaign.
Your Capital Campaign Objectives Should Be a Stakeholder Decision
Figuring out the campaign objectives is not your job alone. But you can and should create a list of all of the possible campaign objectives. Then meet with your organizations staff and volunteer leaders to review the list and decide what will work for your organization.
Once you have a sense of what might be included, you should do some homework and add dollar estimates to each objective. That’s going to give you a draft of the campaign objectives and a working goal that you can take to your board for discussion.
Left to their own devices, your board may well make the wrong decisions. So lead them, nudge them, encourage them in the right direction!
You may encounter nervous board members.
Remember that your board will bear the primary responsibility for the success of your campaign. So the higher the goal, the more nervous they’ll be. And the more things you include in the objectives, the higher your campaign goal.
Be prepared to tell your board that at this early stage of your campaign planning, none of the decisions are final. You’re just testing and exploring what might be possible. Then, once your leadership has informally endorsed your objectives and working goal, you’ll begin to explore how much money you can raise and you’ll bring the campaign objectives and goal into line with what’s possible.
Think Big and Bold — Inspire Courage and Energy
With that approach, your leaders and board will have more courage to think big in the beginning. And you’ll find that big, bold thinking about what might be possible inspires everyone.
It will take some time before you get fully clear on what your campaign will raise money for and how much you want to raise. So start this conversation early.When you plan a capital campaign, think about possibilities rather than limitations. Click To Tweet
Now don’t lose sight of impact!
While you’ve got to figure out what you are going to raise money for — the actual stuff you’ll spend money on — that’s not why people will give you money. They’ll give you money because of the impact those things will make in the world!
Fundraising is not about money. It’s about impact. Never forget that!
(With thanks to our friends at forimpact.org who remind us again and again about the importance of IMPACT!)
Once you have a reasonable sense of what might be included in your campaign — even if that thinking is in the early stages — you should begin work on drafting a case for support.
We’ll tell you how to do that in the next post in this series. Subscribe here to never miss a post.