Fundraising 101: 10 Things You Need to Know About Capital Campaigns
Launching a capital campaign, even in the best of times, is something that requires a good deal of courage and conviction. If you've ever been through one, you know what we're talking about! Given the current financial situation, it's not surprising then that many nonprofits are shelving their big fundraising plans in anticipation of the happier, more stable financial times that are surely coming … at some point in the future.
The problem is that everyone has a different idea of when that "future" will occur. The truth is, while some organizations are wise to hold off, others might be missing opportunities. Even the economy doesn't change the fact that individuals and organizations want to respond to the challenges of our time by making a difference with time and/or money. There is no way to know what the future holds, but each organization should use this time to communicate its values and show appreciation to its donors.
The following 10 key points address issues that are essential to conducting an effective fundraising campaign.
1. Take a disciplined, realistic approach to planning
Devote the time and energy necessary to thoroughly develop a vision for the future and plan (involving key stakeholders early on) for what it will take to actualize that vision. Once those elements are defined, testing the appeal with a broader group — some who know the organization and others who are less familiar with it— to determine what resonates and which individuals will support it is invaluable. You might need to adjust your own expectations, and you might discover you need to explore a variety of funding options, including phasing.
2. Make the case
Know why this capital campaign is integral to your mission and the people you serve, and why it has to happen now. In this environment, where people already feel strapped for cash, organizations have to cross an even higher bar in making their cases for gifts — communicating a compelling vision that has a sense of boldness and urgency. Include details about how this campaign will move the organization to the next level (and affect those served) and why action must be taken now.