If a capital campaign might be in your organization’s future, it’s never too soon to think about the steps of good capital campaign planning.
If your board is just starting to talk about a new building at board meetings, a capital campaign is probably in your future.
And if you see a capital campaign coming down the tracks, you may have a disquieting sense that one day, the board is going to turn to you and say, “Okay, raise the money!”
But you’ve probably never planned for a capital campaign before. Perhaps you’ve been part of a campaign, but actually knowing what to do to get ready… well, that’s a different story.
Your Roadmap to Create a Successful Capital Campaign
This post is a guide to take you from the time you start talking about a capital campaign until you hire a consultant.
Gail and I have coached dozens of organizations through this all-important early pre-campaign planning. We’ve determined the four steps you need to work out early on to make your campaign a success.
Important Capital Campaign Truths to Remember
Here are three important campaign truths you’ve got to keep in mind from the get-go:
- Capital campaigns rely on a few large gifts. Most campaigns find that half (50%!) of their campaign goal comes from no more than ten gifts.
- Those large gifts will come from people who know and are engaged with your organization.
- The very best way to engage people is involving them in the planning process.
Get the idea?
The big dollar campaign gifts will come from people who are already in your community of donors. You will use your early pre-campaign planning to draw your donors closer so they’ll be there for you when you’re ready to ask.
Pre-Campaign Planning: 4 Essential Capital Campaign Steps
We’ve identified the four steps you need to work on early so that you’re totally prepared to plan your campaign.
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 through your campaign. Start this conversation early. All too often, what people think they will raise money for is far too limited.
Just because the centerpiece of your campaign is a building or renovation project doesn’t mean that that’s all you can raise money for through your campaign. You will certainly want to include the cost of your campaign in your objectives. You might also want to consider campaign objectives like these, too:
- Equipment, signage, furnishings
- Building maintenance fund
- New program start up costs
- Moving costs
- Phase in program expansion costs
- Increase to your endowment
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.
You will not need a fancy campaign brochure for many months, but the process of writing the early case will be one of your very best tools for getting your board and key donors thinking about your campaign.
Start right now to identify your list of prospective lead gifts.
As you know, many of those people will already be in your community of donors. Some of them may already be among your top donors. But you may also be able to identify donors who give at a modest level but who are good prospects for the special capital campaign you are planning.
Ideally, you will develop a list of 30 qualified lead gift prospects. But to come up with that group, you’ll probably start with a much longer list of perhaps 150 people. Then, through some prospect research, you’ll winnow the list down.
Why are you developing your list in the pre-campaign phase? Because that group of 30 people are the ones you will want to engage in your planning!
Finally, you’ll want to do everything you can to make sure that your organization’s leadership is on board with the campaign planning. You should engage them in thinking through the campaign goals and objectives. And, of course, in reviewing and commenting on early drafts of the case for support.
And, while you may not be able to identify the leadership team for your capital campaign yet, this early pre-campaign planning phase is a great time to start talking to people about who the best, most effective campaign chairs might be.
Pre-Campaign Planning is the Best Time to Engage Donors
While all four steps above are important in their own right, they each give you wonderful opportunities to draw your leaders and donors into planning the future of your organization.
Your job is not just to develop these steps of planning, but to design the process that will let you reach out to board members and prospective donors to give you feedback and suggestions as you go.
Remember, they people who help shape the plan will feel more engaged, and they will become more generous donors.How to plan a successful #capitalcampaign for your nonprofit in 4 steps Click To Tweet