Lots of people ask Gail and me whether or not they’re ready for a capital campaign.
To help them — and you — we’ve come up with a very short, simple way of figuring it out.
So, is your nonprofit ready for a capital campaign?
Take the little test below to get your answer. The test doesn’t cover every aspect of capital campaign readiness, mind you, but it does get to the heart of the matter, which is:
Does your nonprofit have enough people with both the motivation and the capacity to make your success inevitable?
The Capital Campaign Inevitability Test
Much as we like to talk about the magic of capital campaigns, the fact is that there’s science behind the magic. And in order to create “magical combustion,” you’ve got to have the right ingredients in the right amounts.
- It’s not enough to have a good idea and a sound plan, though you’ll need those.
- It’s not enough to have clear campaign goals.
- It’s not enough to have a gang-buster development program, (though that’s important, and congratulations if you do!).
In order to succeed you also need to have enough people who are willing and able to make big gifts — very big gifts — to your capital campaign.
Your big gift givers have got to know what you’re planning and they’ve got to be engaged and excited.
So before you get started on your campaign… before you hire a consultant… before you do a feasibility study, do yourself a favor and take this little test.
We know — you’ve got a great deal of things that need to be prepared to get ready for a campaign. But before you do all of those things, this simple tool will get you thinking carefully about whether or not you have enough donors on board. You can download it here:
Start by making a list of your top 25 prospective donors to your campaign using the chart you downloaded above. These are the people who have the capacity — the wealth — to make those very large gifts you’ll need.
Then, check one of the three boxes to their right of each name.
- Does this person know about your plans?
- Have they been engaged in the planning process?
- Do you think they’re excited about what you’re planning?
Two Tests in One
You’ve probably noticed that the Capital Campaign Readiness Assessment is actually two tests in one:
1. Do you know where your top 25 campaign gifts are likely to come from?
If you can’t list them easily, you’ve got some work to do.
2. Have you engaged most of your top donors in your plans?
If most of your donors know about your plan and are excited about it, then you’re set up well for a campaign.
If not, it’s time to get them excited! And remember, one of the best ways to get people excited is to involve them in developing or reviewing the plans before they are cast in stone!
The Secret Ingredient for Capital Campaign Magic = Excited, Engaged Donors
Believe me, you don’t want your consultant talking to your major gift prospects if they don’t have a clue what you’re planning. That’s a surefire way to get a disappointing result from your feasibility study.
And you really don’t want to ask people for large campaign gifts without first getting them excited about your plans.
If you haven’t done this yet, spend the time and energy you need to identify and reach out to your largest donors before you hire that consultant and before you roll out your capital campaign. This first essential step isn’t the consultant’s job — it’s yours.