Capital campaigns can seem daunting and downright intimidating. Raising millions of dollars for your project requires both a sound strategy and determination. Before diving head-first into the fundraising plan of your campaign, consider following these seven best practices to make your capital campaign a success.

1.    Leadership Matters Most

It is often said, “People don’t give to causes, they give to people.” A team of motivated, passionate volunteers in partnership with dedicated staff and an experienced consultant will leverage the potential of your project.  Having the right leaders, leaders that donors can have confidence in, is the most important factor for campaign success. The key is to find those leaders, and that is where the Campaign Planning Study comes in.

2.    Do Your Research

The planning study, also known as a feasibility study, is the first big step in your capital campaign. An effective study answers a range of critical questions through interviews and surveys such as:

  • How compelling is your project to donors?
  • How should your project case be positioned to make it more compelling?
  • What is the capacity of your donor base to fund the project?
  • Who are the best people to lead the campaign to success?

Launching a campaign without careful consideration of these questions is a recipe for failure.  The most successful campaigns secure an experienced capital campaign consultant, such as Dickerson, Bakker & Associates, to conduct this study and ensure the most candid perspective from donors and accurate analysis of the study data.

3.    Minimize the Goal to Maximize the Gift

Raising $5, $10, or $20 million can feel so big, especially to donors. Breaking the broader campaign goal into sub-goals, can put the donor’s gift into context and enhance their likelihood to give sacrificially.  Clark Dickerson, founder of Dickerson, Bakker & Associates, called this “Minimizing the Goal, to Maximize the Gift”.

4.    Put Your Best Foot Forward.

Every campaign must defend why donors should give exceedingly generous gifts. This is where a strong case comes into play. A good case has three key components:  problem, solution, and impact (PSI). Too many campaign cases lack a clear problem statement. Without a problem, the donors have nothing to solve. Capture their heart with compelling stories and their mind with statistics and data. (Read Brent Hafele’s blog: Making the Case: Driving Lessons for Your Major Gift Officers for more on this topic.)

Share your proposal for solving the problem and then a clear offer for the donor to make an impact.

5.    Execute the Plan

Create a timeline that maps out your capital campaign from start to finish, and then work that plan. Capital campaigns have a leadership phase and a community phase (Read about the 5 Phases of a Modern Capital Campaign.)

The goal of the leadership phase is to raise 60-80% of the total campaign goal from very large, major gifts. It can be easy to lose focus and raise smaller dollar amounts because that can be more comfortable.  However, stick to your plan and you will be rewarded.

6.    You Can’t Spend Pledges

Once the finish line for your capital campaign comes into sight, it is essential to establish a follow-up program to collect pledges. Don’t let donors drop out of sight after their pledge is made.  Instead, maintain and even build relationships with your donors by keeping the impact of their pledges front and center. Through newsletters, phone calls, and special events, provide updates on how their investment is making a difference. By doing such, your fulfillment rate will be strong and you will build trust with your donor.

7.    Say Thank You and Mean It

Your capital campaign is a crucial moment in the life of your organization. It’s easy to focus on raising the campaign goal all while neglecting those who have already given. Consider creative and thoughtful ways to say thank you.  For example: send artwork from your clients/students, arrange for a private tour of the construction site, deliver a custom picture book, or even give them a red wagon.

Well-executed, these seven best practices will raise significant resources and long-term relationships for your campaign and beyond.

Need help implementing these seven best practices to make your capital campaign a success?  Contact us today and let’s talk about how we can help you and your organization reach your campaign goal.