Are you ready for a Capital Campaign?By
Typically, conducting a capital campaign is reserved for larger projects that require a serious amount of time and investment. I’ve managed campaigns with a goal as little as $500,000, but they are typically $1 million or more.
You can find a bunch of questionnaires and surveys online that will help you figure out whether you’re ready or not. Better yet, find a consultant who can lead you through a fairly simple feasibility study. It will be money well spent. (Hint, hint.)
If you’re just wondering what general areas you should pay attention to, here are a few suggestions.
You have to have:
- Demonstrated and validated need,
- Influence and credibility in the community,
- Project feasibility and fiscal responsibility,
- Demonstrated ability to attract and maintain major gifts, and
- Capacity to manage a campaign operation.
There’s one other question that, in my opinion, is a deal breaker. If you can’t answer this question with a resounding “YES!” you have no business embarking on a capital campaign.
Is your board organized to provide solid and sustained leadership to your fundraising efforts?
I know I’ve been harping on this topic for the past several weeks, but I keep running in to organizations that don’t expect their board to be fundraisers. And I can’t understand why.
Undertaking a capital campaign is a lot of work. Even for a smallish goal, it takes a lot of effort. In my experience, unless the board of directors is already actively engaged in giving (at a significant level) and getting (large gifts) a capital campaign will not succeed. This is just one more reason that you MUST build a comprehensive fundraising program that includes your board of directors.
I know I’m making this WAY too simplistic. Getting ready for and running a successful capital campaign is challenging and complex. But if you’re ready, it can also be an incredible boost to your volunteers and can significantly advance your mission.
Are you ready?
photo credit: JD Hancock via photopin cc
It’s important to be ready for any type of fundraising effort. Not only must the board be committed, but staff and resources must be in place, constituencies available, administrative systems and policies and procedures set to go and a communications plan ready to support your fundraising initiatives. With capital campaigns this goes double, because the stakes are higher. It’s helpful to bring in someone from the outside to help you assess your readiness. Thanks for reminding us all.
Thanks for this, David. When I was doing more consulting around this it was amazing how clients would respond to my research. When I conducted feasibility studies telling me that the organization wasn’t ready, the work was ignored. They didn’t have any of the basic elements you mentioned here – they just wanted to move forward full steam ahead. Certainly, the orgs that weren’t ready either failed in their campaigns or even had to close their doors.
I couldn’t agree more that a consultant is absolutely essential in this case. It’s incredibly important to have strong board engagement in both governance and fundraising. Without it, the effort will simply not succeed.
Thanks so much!!!
We are going through these pains now. We have a committed board that is generous but we are also having to do a gut check as we contemplate a major project and new direction for our ministry. Great advice as I head into my board meeting on Thursday.
You got that right! Things can go south in a hurry if the organization’s not ready.
I can’t wait to hear more about this topic! To be able to pull off raising that much money it is crucial that all team mates are on board and involved.