If you’re considering a potential capital campaign, pre-campaign planning and preparation is the most essential part of your effort. A successful major gift to the campaign is the result of 80% preparation and 20% asking, so don’t skimp on planning and preparation. It’s time well spent. So how should you proceed?
If your organization is considering a potential campaign, be certain that you know the answers to these 10 questions. If you don’t know an answer or if there isn’t agreement amongst your Board and staff leadership about an answer, you’re not ready to kick off a potential capital campaign. You can engage key leaders and board members by taking time to arrive at consensus around the purposes of the campaign. This also leads to larger campaign gifts. Make an effort to get your top people involved in these discussions. It may seem faster to have staff answer these questions, but in campaign planning, the process is as important as the outcome. Here are 10 questions to start your planning process.
Questions to ask yourself about your potential capital campaign
- Does the case for support inspire you? Is there enthusiastic support and agreement amongst the Board and the staff about the worthwhile nature of the project?
- Is there agreement about a valid and urgent need for the money? Are the timing and reason for the campaign sound?
- Is the case for support one which appeals to donors emotionally? Can you distill the case for support into 3 or 4 bullet points?
- Are there ongoing resources to support the project once it’s complete? If your annual costs are expected to increase, is there agreement amongst Board and staff as to how you will cover those costs?
- Does the community regard your institution positively? Does the community consider your programs & services important and relevant? How do you know? What evidence exists to support this?
- Are the executive staff and Board determined and committed to its success? Are they willing to make personal commitments to it in both time and money?
- Is the executive staff and Board willing to make 3-5 solicitation calls accompanied by staff?
- Can you recruit a group of 8-15 enthusiastic, committed volunteers who can be trained to work on the project and solicit gifts? Who are they? Create a list of your top 10 potential campaign leaders.
- The largest lead gift to the campaign, and often the first one, should generally be 10-20% of the goal amount. Have you identified that potential lead gift donor? How likely would you rate that gift?
- Can you secure 50-60% of the campaign goal amount from 10 to 15 donors? Who are the donors on that short list? Can you reach 60-80% of the goal from approximately 25 to 100 donors?
Inspire & excite donors to your capital campaign
Capital and endowment campaigns are large scale, exciting, and time sensitive projects that have the potential to inspire your donors like annual giving never will. They can propel your entire organization forward and bring in new donors committed to your cause. Campaigns can truly be transformative.
Consider the questions above before you engage fundraising counsel or kick off your campaign. It’s worth investing that time.