Capital campaigns are always based on a huge, exciting vision. That’s what you need to inspire donors to step up and make those really big gifts.
We love a bold vision — what Jim Collins refers to as a Big, Hairy, Audacious Goal (BHAG).
Your campaign will probably have its own BHAG, based on a huge big new project, building or expansion.
Two BIG Goals
In fact, you’ll have two big goals in your campaign:
- The project that you want to fund.
- The fundraising goal to pay for it.
As an organizational leader, you may find yourself wondering if these huge goals are really possible, particularly the dollar goal.
You are smart to question this, because you certainly don’t want to be caught in the impossible situation of not having the prospects to meet your goal!
Every capital campaign is compromise between the hoped-for capital goal and a realistic assessment of financial potential.
Fundraising by the Numbers
How do you keep from getting caught in this perilous situation?
You have to go back to the basic question. “What’s your fundraising potential in this campaign?”
And you need to have a rough idea of what kind of money is possible and even probable for your campaign.
You’ve got to know what’s in your fundraising “pipeline.” You’ve got to have reasonable expectation of what you might raise.
Assessing your pipeline is your reality check.
It’ll protect you from “magical thinking” by organizational leaders who have a dream vision that will be impossible to achieve.
When I was a staff fundraiser, I ran these numbers all the time to be sure I knew where I stood.
Here’s how to run the numbers.
So how exactly do you run the numbers on your financial potential? Follow these steps:
Step 1: Pull out your Campaign Prospect List of rated, qualified prospects. Take out your top 50-100 prospects.
Step 2: Carefully write down a number that represents a reasonable expectation of what each prospect might give. It’s good to be a bit conservative.
Step 3: Set a probability for each gift. For example:
- Is the probability 50-50 that someone might give at that level?
- Or is it 80%, because you have already discussed that number with the prospect?
- Or is it 30% because you have not yet initiated a gift discussion?
Step 4: Do the math. Multiply the probability times the gift amount.
A simple example:
You think that Mr. Richards might reasonably consider a gift of $500,000.
But you also think that it’s a 50-50 chance that he will actually make that gift. So you estimate a probable gift of $250k.
So there you have it.
- A list of 50-100 lovely prospects for major campaign gifts.
- A reasonable gift expectation from each prospect.
- A probability indicator applied to each gift.
- The number resulting from multiplying the expected gift by the probability of the gift.
Then you can add up your overall total.
Here’s the dollar amount of gifts you can reasonably expect, based on the prospects you are working with.
You’ll end up with a solid, conservative number of how much money you can expect to raise in the leadership gift portion of your campaign.
You’ll also have protection from those who are insisting on a campaign goal far in excess of the prospect pool you are working with.
You have a real, live number, based on solid assumptions, that reflects cold, hard reality.
Numbers don’t lie.
Knowledge is truth. This analysis will protect you!
What do you think?
What happens when YOU run the numbers? Is it a dose of hard reality? Or does it make you happy to think of all the wonderful potential sitting there just staring you in the face?