What Are You Raising Money For? How to Determine Your Capital Campaign Goal
What do you want to raise money for though your capital campaign?
That sounds like such a simple question. But it’s not so easy to figure out.
Again and again, I hear from people who don’t get it right. People are either too timid in their aspirations or too ambitious.
Is Your Goal Too Timid? Too Ambitious?
When people are too timid, they propose fundraising goals that won’t cover the essentials. Because they are afraid they’ll fail, they pick a low goal and risk raising the money, but not being able to fund the entire project.
People with this problem usually don’t include all of the hidden costs. They focus on the building expenses, but don’t account for the cost of the fundraising or moving or storage or professional fees. Or the host of other expenses they’ll have to cover.
When people are too ambitious, they propose wonderful, expansive goals that haven’t been brought into any alignment with what they know about their donor base.
Think of your campaign goal on a scale of one to 10, where one is timid and 10 is off-the-charts courageous. I encourage you to go for seven, with the possibility of pulling back to five or six.
Your goal should be big enough to be exciting and small enough to be possible. You’re job is to figure out what the right number is!
4 Simple Steps to Determine Your Campaign Goal
Try this four step process to figure out the goal that’s right for you.
1. Define clear and specific objectives.
Make a list of everything you plan to raise money for. Your list might include some or all of the following:
Construction or renovation costs
Furnishings, signage and equipment
Start-up costs for new programs
Cost of fundraising
Now add cost estimates for each of the items. While your numbers will be estimates, do enough homework, so you are reasonably comfortable with them.
2. List various funding sources.
Your list of sources will probably include some or all of these:
Bank loan (short term)
Mortgage (long term)
3. Analyze your sources of revenue.
Analyze how much of the money you need will come from your capital campaign. Notice that not all of the sources of revenue will be part of your campaign.
So, for example, you may need a total of $6 million for your entire project, but set a capital campaign goal of $3.5 million. The other funding may come from cash reserves, a bank loan and longer term planned giving revenue.
4. Develop a gift-range chart.
Create a gift-range chart for the amount you think will come from your campaign. The process of developing a gift range chart and then analyzing it against your donor base will give you a realistic way to develop a campaign goal that is neither too timid, nor too ambitious. And you can do this!
Our new self-guided video course on developing your gift range chart gives you everything you need in a clear step-by-step fashion to create your own gift range chart. Learn more here.
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.