I’m excited to share a guest post by Christopher Lytle, one of CCM’ newest master coaches. Take it away, Chris!
A development colleague working in higher education once confessed to me, “We have capital campaigns whether we need them or not!”
Big institutions always have building and infrastructure needs, and capital campaigns are the most efficient way to identify and attract larger donors, so why not always be in capital campaign mode!
Capital Campaigns have Evolved Significantly
Initially they raised money mainly for construction of new buildings and equipment, and they happened once every ten years or so.
Fast-forward to today and the definition of “capital” has evolved from bricks and mortar to just about anything that requires a concentrated infusion of “capital” (i.e. financial investment). Then as now, it’s never really about the buildings or hardware, but what they make possible.
While an Emergency Department, Symphony Hall or Dormitory are all contained in buildings, it’s not about the building but the lives that are moved, touched, inspired or literally saved by what goes on inside — bettering the human condition.
Seven Working Elements of a Capital Campaign
The glue that defines capital campaigns is the campaign format. The seven working elements include:
- Clearly identified impact/result
- Specific financial goal
- Limited timeframe
- Focused leadership group
- Pledges with multi-year payments
- Whole and complete – stands on its’ own
- Special recognition
What if your organization doesn’t provide its services in a physical facility?
Using a campaign format, ambitious program goals can be integrated if the overall objective is bold and holds the promise of real impact. Well thought out, mission driven strategic and program planning is at the heart of any fundraising campaign.
My experience has included a number of initiatives that used the campaign format to secure significant “program capital.”
An Amazing Example of a Non-Capital, Capital Campaign
The following outlines a campaign to fund a national outreach initiative about the dangers of blood clots to new mothers.
The Problem & Need
An epidemic of blood clot related deaths affects 200 million people worldwide. In part due to aging and skyrocketing diabetes and obesity, PAD (Peripheral Arterial Disease), one of many conditions that causes blood clots, has increased by 25% in the last decade.
The Solution and Clearly Identified Impact
The Cardio Vascular Disease Foundation in partnership with the Center for Disease Control created a campaign to increase awareness and drive action around the prevention of blood clots in women.
They chose to focus on a unique sub-group, in this case new mothers — pre and postnatal. While not the largest group of potential blood clot victims, they represent a manageable sized group, easily identified, emotionally attractive and accessible via hospitals and related health care providers. The goal was to reduce Maternal Blood Clots by 50% in five years. An Ad/Communications firm was contracted to develop the plan.
Specific Financial Goal
The cost was estimated to be $1.5 million, raised in two phases, for a five year awareness and educational roll-out. The first phase was to raise $100,000 to develop the plans and budgets to reach the target audience. The second phase was to raise funds to implement the plan.
The fundraising “campaign” was conducted over one year. The first six months to raise the funds to develop the plan. The second six months focused on securing commitments from donors to implement the plan.
Campaign Leadership Group
A core group of Trustees and International Medical Advisory Council members was enlisted as the Campaign Steering Committee. They accepted the challenge to raise funds to cover the $100,000 costs of planning. With the plan in place, additional Campaign Committee members were recruited from professional medical specialty groups, pharmaceutical and medical device manufactures, and patient groups to fund the project and open doors to other potential funding sources.
Pledges with Payments Over Time
Pledges were solicited to be paid over up to three-years, in addition to any annual gifts.
Whole and Complete
The case statement and all donor visits reinforced that this initiative should NOT be considered in lieu of annual giving. There was a clear beginning and end of the campaign, with very specific financial goals for a very clear use. Full stop!
Recognition was provided in all print and electronic materials, on organizational and partner websites, banners at annual conferences and events.
- Spokespersons acknowledged their support in speeches to related community and professional groups.
- Newsletters by partners and hospitals ran regular updates and feature stories over the five years of the program.
- Each participating hospital displayed a sign identifying themselves as a partner in the educational initiative.
Donors received more specific and targeted visibility than in any other initiative — they were delighted!
The Take Away
The “Capital Campaign” Formula Works for More than Buildings
As an alternative to launching a large, complex capital campaign, consider smaller, very specific initiatives that employ the “campaign format.” If you have a project that will have a huge impact on a meaningful client group, plan a special campaign using the essential principles of campaign fundraising.
As they say, try eating the elephant one bite at a time!
About the Author
Chris Lytle has had a long and illustrious career in fundraising, working for very large international organizations as well as small, scrappy, surprising outfits. He has worked both as a staffer, heading up development shops and as a coach and a consultant. As you will see from this post, he fully embraces the power of the capital campaign methodology — whether or not the ultimate goal is a capital project.
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