Does Your Organization Have a Capital Campaign Moonshot? It Should.
If one of your largest donors asked you what would transform your organization—what would “take it to the moon” in terms of helping more people and having more impact—would you have an answer? Though capital campaigns are usually more practically focused than that, if you’re in a capital campaign, you ought to have an answer to the question…
What could a donor do to vastly ramp up your organization’s impact?
You shouldn’t shape your case around that “moonshot,” but you should be prepared with a real and thoughtful answer.
Why Shoot for the Moon in Your Campaign?
Because throughout your campaign, you will be having deep and probing conversations with the people who have the potential to make a big gift and big ideas spark big gifts. It’s one thing to talk to donors about the practical needs of your organization—that new addition or new playground or new parking lot. They are important and you can fund them through a capital campaign.
But conversations about those practical needs pale in comparison to a thoughtful discussion about what might be—in other words, your “moonshot.”
Do You have a Personal Moonshot?
The idea for this post was sparked by the remarkable Chris Guillebeau, an author, entrepreneur, thinker, experimenter and life adventurer. His post on personal moonshots gives me the courage to think bigger.
Transformational Gifts and Campaign Moonshots
In the fundraising world, the concept of a moonshot translates into the possibility of a transformational gift.
A transformational gift is a very big gift that is targeted in a way that magnifies an organization’s impact. Gifts like that do happen now and again. They are not just big gifts—they are big gifts that change the way an organization operates.
Transformational gifts don’t just happen. They grow out of discussions that leap over the usual limitations about what might be possible. Not everyone is drawn to conversations like that.
To some folks, moonshot conversations produce little more than eye-rolling and sotto voce whispers of, “that’ll never happen.”
But some people are truly inspired by them. They enjoy the freedom to think big. They understand that most worthwhile things begin with an idea, and they are happy to play in that far-reaching world.
Have a Moonshot Conversation as You Prepare for Your Campaign
As you get ready for your campaign, invite a few of your most forward-thinking board members and donors to get together to talk about what a moonshot would look like for your organization. It shouldn’t be a stuffy or staid conversation—to the contrary. You should give yourself and the group the chance to think outside of the normal constraints.
I don’t have a formula for how to make these conversations work, but if I were to design one today, I’d start with asking people to come to the meeting ready to share their personal moonshot idea. I’d use those personal ideas to set the stage for developing moonshot ideas for the organization.
You might also want to learn more about running better campaign meetings before you meet.
Moonshot Ideas Can Inspire Transformational Gifts
Even if your group doesn’t come up with the perfect moonshot idea, the fact that you’ve had a meeting to discuss it will give you wonderful fodder as you talk to your donors. And, it may well inspire you to think more expansively.
Don’t be afraid of big ideas… the worst thing that can happen is that they don’t come true. But the alternative can be transformational!
I’d be happy to talk capital campaign strategy with you if I think I could help. Fill out this application for a free 30-minute strategy session with me.
Andrea Kihlstedt is an innovative leader and expert in capital campaign fundraising. She wrote "Capital Campaigns: Strategies That Work (4th ed)," often referred to as the “bible” of capital campaign fundraising. She founded Capital Campaign Masters and co-founded Capital Campaign Toolkit, an online capital campaign resource and platform.