Does Your Capital Campaign Need a Jump Start?
This capital campaign guide from Double the Donation shares that a capital campaign is a drawn-out, extensive fundraiser. At a more complex level, a capital campaign is a concentrated effort to raise a substantial amount of money for a specific project, usually between one and five years. Without the support of a variety of constituencies, a capital campaign has little chance of succeeding.
Your nonprofit needs to carefully plan the campaign to ensure complete success. Elements to be reviewed in the planning phase include the financial goal, the deadline, the budget, feasibility study and team development. Feasibility studies are product testing for the capital campaign. Community leaders, current and past board members, major donors and other key potential donors should be interviewed. Creation of a strong, broad-based committee is a must, along with prospect research, case for support and hiring of a capital campaign consultant.
Capital Campaign Masters note that every successful capital campaign has several phases, with specific strategies for each phase. These phases include a pre-planning phase, planning phase, lead and insider gift phase, kickoff phase, general gift phase and follow-through phase. The pre-planning phase is early exploration that includes many elements, such as drafting a case for support, creating a lead of lead donor prospects, engaging the board in all facets of the campaign and developing a financial goal for the campaign.
The planning phase elements include creating the capital campaign plan and committee, engaging a capital campaign consultant, executing a feasibility study, refining your case for support and researching prospects to determine how much you can raise. Other elements include development of campaign policies and donor recognition plan. Campaign chairs and volunteers will need to be enlisted and additional staff employed if necessary. Details must be established, and every element must be constantly reviewed, implemented and reexamined. A qualified campaign consultant must be hired and work closely with staff and volunteers to make sure each step is in sync.
As the capital campaign begins, constant monitoring of progress consists of goal evaluation, solicitation performance and success of the first key asks made. The campaign must create excitement and passion for the cause it represents. Goal targets must have timelines for achievement, and if not met, be ready to adjust these along the way.
Goettler Associates believe nine reasons capital campaigns fail include having an organization in a capital campaign that has a negative image or perception problem, lack of organizational leadership, lack of a compelling vision and/or strategic plan, out of touch with the community it serves, a narrow or uninvolved donor constituency, jumping the gun by not totally being ready for a campaign but begin anyway, lack of a competent development staff, campaign budget or functional systems, an unrealistic campaign plan, schedule or goal, and no planning or feasibility study. Both science and art are involved in a campaign.
Johnson Grossnickle Associates states that capital campaigns are an important tool in raising funds for nonprofits. While a campaign can be a crucial initiative for moving an organization forward, the reality is many organizations in capital campaigns experience times of losing campaign steam.
An Advancing Philanthropy article regarding stalled capital campaigns notes that capital campaigns begin with early excitement and momentum. Over time, a campaign may be facing a stall. Just like when a car battery drains, you may need a jump start of fresh energy to get the system flowing again. Campaigns stall usually due to a lack of prospects, lack of well cultivated major donors and a poor infrastructure needed to support prospect cultivation. Several organizations stall because they were not prepared when they started. Understanding what area to improve is critical when witnessing a campaign stall.
Advancing Philanthropy notes that a stalled campaign needs new energy to get it back on track. Check to see if your leadership is burned out. Go back to your consultant and see if they can go back to the drawing board. Review the feasibility study again to see if those individuals interviewed that said they could support the campaign are in fact, supporting the campaign. Seek new campaign volunteers and leaders that could step in with freshness. Re-energize the campaign with a challenge grant from a well-known donor or highly respected foundation. Go back to previous campaign donors and seek second or third gifts. Do not be afraid to leave any stone unturned to achieve ultimate success.
Like a dead car battery that needs a jump start, capital campaigns, at times, need a jump start. Campaigns are a marathon and a grind. Jump start your stalled capital campaign today and think of the people who will ultimately benefit from your campaign success!
Duke has extensive experience as a nonprofit practitioner, author, lecturer and consultant. He has been a contributing author to NonProfit PRO for the last 11 years. He has been a long-standing member of the Association of Fundraising Professionals where he was previously named the AFP Indiana Chapter Fundraising Executive of the Year and has held the CFRE designation for many years.
He received his doctorate degree from West Virginia University with an emphasis in education administration, master's degree from Marshall University with an emphasis in public administration and a bachelor's degree from West Virginia University with an emphasis in marketing/management. He has also completed post graduate work at the University of Louisville.
He is currently executive director of development for The Salvation Army Indiana Division in Indianapolis, Indiana. Contact Duke at email@example.com or 317-224-1029.