Capital Campaign Advice From the Field
A capital campaign not only is an effort to raise funds for large organizational expenses, but it also can be a learning experience in how best to engage constituents and educate them about your mission and programs.
The Campaign for the Children of Lawrence Hall is a phased, three- to five-year $35 million capital campaign for a new five-acre campus for Lawrence Hall Youth Services, a 142-year-old organization that provides child-welfare programs in the Chicago area.
The campaign began nearly three years ago and remains on schedule and on budget. Last July the organization broke ground on the campus’ multiple buildings, which include a therapeutic day school, a residential treatment center, a clinical center and recreational facilities, and plans it to move in to the residential treatment center in December.
Julie Youngquist, vice president of institutional advancement for LHYS, says one notable challenge the organization has encountered during the campaign is competition from a slew of other capital campaigns going on right now in Chicago, plus the city’s 2016 Olympic bid.
Youngquist says the organization has surmounted that challenge by stressing in campaign fundraising materials that LHYS is a social-services agency, unlike many of the other campaigns currently underway in the area.
“The other capital campaigns that are happening in the city, ones that are in the same kind of ballpark or same dollar amount as ours, don’t tend to be social-services organizations, so there are donors in the city that will donate to the Field Museum capital campaign, they may donate to the Lyric Opera capital campaign and other capital campaigns, and we would be their social-service agency of choice,” Youngquist says.
The capital campaign is growing LHYS’ internal fundraising and communications strategies as well as its physical presence. Youngquist says a unique thing LHYS is doing to raise both funds and awareness of the campaign is its breakfast briefings, which it holds two Fridays a month. The organization invites groups of donors to choose from a selection of topics that relate to its programs and then presents information on those topics at the residential treatment center that’s being built. It gives potential donors a chance to visit the facility, hear about the construction project and see for themselves the progress that’s being made, as well as hear about issues teens are facing and how LHYS is addressing them.