Five Best Practices for Achieving Capital Campaign Success
Robert G. Swanson, president of Wichita, Kan.-based full-service fundraising consulting firm Hartsook Companies, works with organizations of all kinds on capital campaigns. He recently took some time to share some of his key best practices for capital campaign success. They are:
1. Do a campaign assessment study. In order to do this properly, an organization must be willing to assess its community, however that might be defined, to determine people’s perceptions of it and whether there are individuals who will support the campaign. Assessing the landscape of the community not only allows the organization to get a better understanding of how people perceive it, but it also begins the process of educating and cultivating prospective donors.
2. Get 100 percent participation from the board. Organizations that have full board participation have more success with capital campaigns, not just because of the monetary commitment board members make to the campaign, but also because of the impact their involvement has on other donors. “More and more we hear funders make the comment that if those closest to the organization aren’t willing to participate in their own campaigns, then why should we,” Swanson says.
3. Create a campaign leadership committee. Don’t just make your existing board members and volunteer leadership the campaign committee. Use the capital campaign as an opportunity to engage different people in the life of the organization without giving them all of the duties and responsibility of board membership.
4. Focus on the end, not the means to it. Though the goals of the campaign are to raise money for the renovation or creation of a building or facility, Swanson says cannot be the campaign’s focus. “When board members or other volunteers or staff think that they’re raising money for a building … they cannot be as successful as when they focus in on understanding that these are only a means to an end,” he says. The real focus is that the organization is raising money for a new building because it’s going to do “X” for its clients.
5. Communicate with donors and prospects. If you don’t already have one, create a vehicle that enables you to have a monthly conversation with donors and prospects. “If the organization is not having a conversation with these people on a regular basis, it’s very difficult then to approach them at a later date and really try to get them involved in a very significant way in the life of your organization,” Swanson says.
Communicating on an ongoing basis lays the groundwork of educating prospects on what you’re doing and sets the stage for that point in time when you approach them about supporting the campaign.
Robert Swanson can be reached via www.hartsookcompanies.com