Ask most people in the first phases of planning a capital campaign how much they need to raise and they’ll have a simple answer straight out of the gate. It might be something like, “We’re planning to raise $5 million over five years.”
But that quick, simple answer… It’s seldom big enough to meet their needs — let alone big enough to take their organization to the next level.
That initial number usually reflects some of what they need, tempered by their belief and anxiety that they can’t raise more.
If the scenario above describes you, STOP!
Your Capital Campaign is No Time to Think Small!
Consider the costs.
First, let’s consider any costs you might be forgetting. For example, say you’re going to raise money for a new building. You know you need $2 million to build it – but have you taken into account the money you’ll need for new furniture and equipment? How about insurance costs? Legal fees? Moving costs? The inevitable overruns?
How about the costs of the capital campaign itself? Not to mention the expense of starting up the new programs you’ll have in the building?
Think “big impact.”
Next, remember — a capital campaign is about increasing your organization’s impact. It’s not about little, incremental change. It’s about catapulting your organization to the next level of impact.
You’re not “just” putting up a new building. No, you’re going to serve more people and do more good once this project is complete.
And you’re not “just” asking your donors for money. No, you’re inviting them to partner with you to make a difference in the world.
So you’ve got to think big enough about your goal so that the money you raise through your campaign really will have significant impact.
What Will Your Campaign Fund?
Setting a preliminary financial goal that includes everything you’ll need (and then some) is one of the most important steps in planning your campaign. It’s one of the 5 things you should do before you hire a capital campaign consultant.
The very act of clarifying what your campaign will fund and creating a preliminary dollar goal will force you to think carefully about the scope of your project and everything you’ll need to make your project a success.
This kind of early planning is your chance to encourage your team to dream, and dream big.
So before you get very far in your capital campaign planning, take a moment to estimate the entire cost of your ideal project. Be sure to create a preliminary campaign budget so you can include your capital campaign costs.
Estimate your project costs carefully.
Here are some items you might want to include:
- Real estate
- Design costs
- Construction costs
- Interim financing
- Equipment and furnishings
- Administrative costs
- Consultant and legal fees
- Campaign expenses
Think expansively as you do this early work on your campaign goal. This is the time to be inspired by your dreams, not hampered by your fears! And be sure to consider including some endowment funds in your campaign goal.
It’s Called a “Working Goal” for a Reason
Just like the beginning stages of your case for support, your capital campaign’s fundraising goal is a draft — an early estimate of what you might raise.
Your final campaign goal may be quite different from your early estimate. Yes, it might be lower. But it also might end up higher. Use the phrase “working goal” to indicate it might change.
But just because you’re not sure what your plans will cost or whether you can raise that much, putting early numbers down on paper in the early stages will help focus everyone’s attention on two vitally important issues:
- Your vision.
- The nuts and bolts of getting there.
So be sure to keep your DRAFT stamp ready, and use it liberally, while creating your initial capital campaign goals!
(Yeah… we know no one uses draft stamps any more, but you get the idea. Make sure that it’s clear — super clear. On every document that the goal is just an early estimate and is likely to change over time as the project becomes more and more real.)
And especially at the beginning, aim high. You’ll find that it’s far easier to lower the working goal than it is to raise it. And your donors may be willing to give more generously to big ideas that have the potential to make a big impact.
**Photo credit: Lightwise / 123RF Stock Photo