Tips to Help Boards Determine the Necessity of a Capital Campaign
“How does the board decide if a capital campaign is needed?” This is one of the 20 questions asked, and answered, in the book “Capital Campaigns: Constructing a Successful Fundraising Drive,” by Edward C. Schumacher, president of Seattle-based fundraising firm Third Sector Consulting. The book offers board members and nonprofit executives guidelines and tips to help them to conduct successful capital campaigns.
It’s the board’s job to determine whether a capital campaign is worthwhile. To arrive at this determination, Schumacher advises board members ask themselves if a capital campaign:
* Will have a positive impact on the organization.
* Is necessary.
* Is urgent.
* Is consistent with the goals and mission of the organization.
* Can be developed and planned in an economical way.
* Will interest and excite potential donors.
Other questions such as how the campaign will be funded and who will benefit from it are important to answer, as well. Capital campaigns raise funds to fix or build facilities, but most donors are more interested in hearing about the impact the facilities will have on people. As Schumacher writes, “Instead of telling donors how the capital improvements will extend the life of a building, tell them how the work in the refurbished building will benefit people.”
Before embarking on a capital campaign, an organization should ensure that the following things are in place:
* A positive perception of the organization.
* Confidence that the staff and board can effectively lead the campaign.
* A detailed strategic and operational plan.
* Committed donors who are ready, willing and able to make gifts.
* A competent development office with the necessary staff (most important for mid- to large-sized organizations).
* Commitment from board members and volunteers.
“Capital Campaigns: Constructing a Successful Fundraising Drive,” by Edward C. Schumacher, 2001, BoardSource. $36. www.boardsource.org/Bookstore.asp?Item=62