Are you planning a capital campaign? I’ll bet you’ve got questions!
Whether you work at a theater company, a hospital foundation, a private school, a religious organization, a museum, a summer camp or a social service organization, you need answers to the most commonly asked questions.
7 Essential Capital Campaign FAQs
These are the seven questions people ask us again and again. And if you’re headed for a capital campaign, you’ll want them answered.
Here are short Cliff-Note answers to help you grasp the essentials. If you want to dive deeper into any answer, just click on the links provided to learn more.
1. What can we raise money for in our capital campaign?
You can raise money for buildings, renovations, new program startup costs, transition costs, building your organization’s capacity (systems and equipment) and the cost of our campaign.
It’s not a good idea to have a capital campaign to repay your debt, build a cash reserve fund, celebrate your organization’s big birthday, the retirement of a beloved leader or on-going operating expenses.
2. How do we set our campaign goal?
Make a list of the things for which you want to raise money. Rough out a cost for each item. Add them up. Add a 15% contingency. Presto! You’ll have a “working goal” for your campaign.
What’s a working goal? It’s a goal to get you started. It’ll change over time. Estimate on the high side to begin with. It’ll be easier to come down than to go up.
3. How much will our campaign cost?
If your organization already has systems and staff in place for effective fundraising, you can start your planning by estimating that your campaign will cost you 10% of your campaign goal. That’s ten cents per dollar raised.
Compare that to what you spend on annual fundraising and events and you’ll find that it’s the most cost effective fundraising!
4. Should we have a feasibility study?
Unless the largest gifts to your campaign have already been committed, you should do a feasibility study.
Capital campaigns are based in large part on confidence. Your board needs confidence that you can be successful to function at their best. Your campaign leaders must believe that the campaign will succeed before they step up as leaders. Your largest donors must have confidence that they are giving to a campaign that will succeed.
A successful feasibility study done by an experienced and credible consultant provides that kind of confidence.
NOTE: Don’t do a feasibility study before your organization is fully ready. Discouraging results undermine confidence!
5. Where do we find the top donors for our capital campaign?
Your top donors aren’t hiding under rocks. And they aren’t among people who have no connection to your organization. You’ve got to look closer to home.
- Start by looking at your board.
- Next look at the people who are already giving major gifts to you.
- Then look at the donors who give large gifts to other in your community.
If you already have a major gift program, you can probably make a list of your top 25 donors off the top of your head. If you don’t have a history of major gifts, your campaign will get you started. But if you are just starting out with major gifts, be sure to temper your campaign goal accordingly.
6. Are we ready for a capital campaign?
There’s not a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ answer to this question. You are probably ready in some ways and not in others. Really, one of the many important roles campaigns play is that they motivate and inspire organizations to ramp up in order to get ready.
Assessing your campaign readiness is a wonderful way to get staff and board members to learn more about what it takes to have a successful development program. Ask your board chair and development chair to fill out our FREE Campaign Readiness Assessment and then have a meeting in which you compare your results.
7. What capital campaign materials do we need?
You’ll be surprised to learn that you don’t need a campaign brochure any time soon. You will solicit all of your largest gifts with draft material. Actual printed campaign material won’t be necessary until your campaign kick-off, which ushers in the broad, public phase of your campaign.
More Help with Your Capital Campaign
Need more help? We’ve got you covered!
Ask Your Campaign Questions
What are the questions you’d like answered? Ask the experts at CCM and we’ll either answer you personally or include your question in another Q&A Round Up.
Sign Up for a Free Strategy Session
If you’re heading into a campaign, apply for a free, no obligation Pre-Campaign Strategy Session. One of our campaign experts will speak with you about your organization and help you shape a strategy for moving forward.
NOTE: We do not sell you anything during this session. We are not campaign consultants and we don’t do feasibility studies. This session is for your benefit.
If at the end of our call, we believe that our pre-campaign coaching would be helpful to you, we’ll tell you about it then to help you continue moving in the right direction.