7 Fundamental Principles of Major Capital Campaigns
4. Ask prospects for the right amount
Major capital campaigns do not succeed by taking up a collection or generically inviting prospects to chip in whatever they can. Prospects should be targeted and solicited for specific amounts determined through a deliberative process, taking into account relative financial capacity, interest and benefit, and ensuring a semblance of proportionality among prospective investors. Seek to raise sights high and challenge prospects to step up significantly. By suggesting specific and well-considered investment amounts to each prospect, and supporting each ask with personalized rationale, you can guide prospects to participate at levels necessary to ensure overall success.
5. Top pledges have disproportionate impact on campaign success
Experience indicates that about half of the money raised will come from the top 10 or so investments. Therefore, take great care to maximize these top-level commitments. In order to do so, there should be:
- a strong and persuasive case statement,
- pertinent background research,
- a customized return-on-investment analysis,
- a personalized written investment proposal,
- an appropriate evaluation amount,
- extensive strategic deliberation among campaign leaders,
- advance cultivation efforts,
- a sound solicitation plan,
- the right volunteer influence and involvement, and
- a professional solicitation.
Take the time and make the effort to secure the best possible high-end commitments. The greatest upside and downside potential to any campaign is typically realized through the results of the largest solicitations.
6. Carefully build a strong foundation
There is often the temptation to rush out of the gate, pick the low-hanging fruit, cut corners and accelerate the timeline. Resist this temptation. Since the key elements of a successful campaign — strong program and case, appropriate evaluations, the right leadership team, exemplary lead investments — are developed in the first half of the campaign (the quiet phase), make sure to do this carefully, methodically, strategically and with a focus on exceptional quality. Speed and quantity are not the appropriate operative dynamics until the second half of the campaign (the public phase), when the base is being broadened and the individual stakes are much smaller. It is perfectly normal for the early months of a campaign to have a slow and deliberate feel to them, and the later months to seem fast-paced and hard-charging. This is prudent and by design.
As a founding principal of Convergent Nonprofit Solutions, Mark focuses on empowering nonprofits to accomplish more for the communities and constituencies they serve by dramatically increasing their financial resources. He is a leading national expert in funding nonprofit organizations and community initiatives through large fundraising campaigns.
Mark has managed and consulted on fundraising campaigns for a broad array of nonprofits, including schools, community colleges, museums, hospitals, women’s and children’s services, workforce development organizations, associations, arts and culture organizations, Boy Scouts councils, historic theaters, human service organizations, community foundations, YMCAs, animal shelters, hospices, social service nonprofits, community centers, chambers of commerce, and economic development corporations.