Capital Campaign Case Study ~ White Rock Christian Academy


Founded in 1981, White Rock Christian Academy began as a small, church-based school. The school recently expanded its offerings and made outstanding additions to the faculty, which resulted in a quickly growing enrollment. Innovative new programs such as an International Baccalaureate program are driving even greater enrollment today. The facilities, located in Surrey – on the outskirts of Vancouver off the Pacific coast of Canada – have not kept up with the educational enhancements, however. Existing spaces were over-utilized, and there was no more room for growth. The construction of new facilities was an absolute must.


Once the Board began exploring options, it became obvious that expanding the current facility was not a viable option. The Board and Head of School decided to take a bold step of faith and adopted a master plan that involved complete redevelopment of WCRA’s facilities. An entirely re-imagined campus plan was envisioned to provide for increased enrollment, modernized classrooms, updated technology, expanded programs, additional parking, enhanced safety, better access, and a more visually appealing campus.

The Plan

The redevelopment plan for WCRA’s campus will be staged over three phases. The centerpiece of the first phase is a 47,000 sq ft two-story building with underground parking. Phase 1 also includes a new classroom block and more robust and efficacious spaces for fine arts and music. Overall this phase will increase the school’s enrollment capacity by more than 33%. Phases 2 and 3 will include classrooms for grades 6-12, science laboratories, two gymnasiums, an auditorium, additional underground parking and office space for administration and staff.

Pre-Campaign Planning

The total construction cost of Phase 1 was estimated to be $13.8 million. Successful completion of Phase 1 was understood to be most critical, as it would place the school on a path to long term program stability and financial security.

Prior to making a formal decision to press forward with the plan, WRCA engaged Dickerson, Bakker & Associates to conduct a feasibility study. The purpose of the study was to determine what the WRCA constituency thought about the plan, and to determine if there would be sufficient financial support to carry it through to completion. DB&A conducted a series of personal interviews, focus group meetings, and surveys across multiple segments of stakeholders. The results of the study showed that there was broad support for the plan, and that a capital campaign would be feasible. But the giving projections coming out of the study were less than hoped, leaving a gap in the overall financial plan.

Dickerson, Bakker & Associates recommended a series of pre-campaign cultivation meetings to open discussions with a handful of families who had the highest giving capacity, but who were still “on the fence” about their giving intent. After some training by DB&A, Board members met one-on-one with these families to articulate the need and present the vision; explaining why they were committed to the project, and allowing for questions. Ultimately they were also seeking to help these families understand how instrumental their partnership was to achieving the goals of the project. People were not asked for commitments at these meetings, but were asked to pray and seek God’s leading.

At the conclusion of these meetings, positive feedback from these families made it apparent that the campaign goal could be increased, and the plan was back on track. The Board’s formal recommendation to proceed was approved without dissent.

The Campaign

With the plan formally approved, the Board moved quickly to engage Dickerson, Bakker & Associates to help with the campaign. As a demonstration that the leadership was whole-heartedly and unanimously supportive of this project, Board members and their spouses came together for a special evening to celebrate the launch of the campaign and to challenge one another to make a significant financial commitment to the campaign. A number of other major commitments were secured soon after. Together these gifts provided significant early momentum to the campaign.

Remarkably, the campaign exceeded the entire original phase 1 goal of the campaign during the quiet, leadership giving phase. When the school received offers for not one but two major matching gifts to help leverage middle and smaller gifts from alumni and other friends of the school, the Board decided to go public with a campaign goal that was a million dollars higher than originally hoped.

The first phase of the campaign is now largely complete, and construction on Phase 1 of the campus redevelopment plan is underway, with plans to move into the new building at the start of the 2018-2019 school year. And planning for Phase 2 is already in the works.


Achieved financial objectives for $13.8 million phase 1 of campus redevelopment plan

First phase goal of campaign exceeded and extended by one million dollars

Construction underway; occupancy expected by start of 2018-2019 school year

Resulting expansion allows for increased enrollment, expanded programs, better learning environments, enhanced technologies, and a safer, more inviting school community.


“I don’t think there was any hope we would have had the success we did in our capital campaign without the help we received from Dickerson, Bakker & Associates. In fact, I’d go so far as to say that without them on board with our campaign, it wouldn’t have even been close to the success that it turned out to be. We wouldn’t hesitate to use Dickerson-Bakker again, no question at all. We’ve got them on speed dial!”
Dr. Nathan B. Kennedy - Capital Campaign Chair, White Rock Christian Academy


No doubt you’ve heard it said that successful major gift fund development is “all about relationships”. We couldn’t agree more. At the same time, however, it just isn’t that simple. Real success in major gift fundraising is about strategically managing relationships with high-value donors in order to maximize their understanding of, interest in, involvement with, and commitment to your organization and its underlying mission. Even the word “relationships” is ambiguous. Major donors don’t have “relationships” with organizations. They have relationships with people in the organization. Too many put too much emphasis on the relationship with the development officer and overlook the importance of others. Relationships between your organization and its major donors actually have multiple dimensions, each increasingly important as you advance to higher tiers of giving.

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The case statement, also known as the “case for support,” provides a glimpse into the heart of a non-profit organization and is a vital part of any major gift fundraising effort. With over twenty years experience working with major donors we know what they are looking for in an offer. We will work with you to craft a compelling and professional case for support and guide you through the development of additional collateral materials needed to effectively present your case. We will also spend time in the field with your team to help them hone their presentation skills and train them in the “Art of the Close”.

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Of all the building blocks needed to create a major gift program, none is more important than the people you have in place on your major gift leadership team. Having the right people in the right roles is a critical part of the Keystone Solution™ and we will work with you to ensure that your staff and volunteers are well-trained and appropriately gifted for their roles. If necessary, we will work with you to recruit additional members to your major gift leadership team.

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Any good fisherman knows that you can’t catch a big fish if you’ve got your line in the wrong pond. The future success of any major gift fund-raising program is built upon the organization’s ability to attract new donors to support its mission. To ensure on-going growth, a wide base of dynamic support is necessary, which presumes that a significant number of new major donors must be acquired and subsequently nurtured and elevated to rising giving levels. Using both “high-tech” and “high-touch” approaches we will work with your organization to identify a pool of best major gift prospects for your major gift program and to segment them into prioritized lists. As part of our prospecting services, we are also able to provide Donor Research Services to help you realize the major gift potential in your donor database and circles of influence.

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Successful major gift fundraising is both an art and a science. The art is in the relationships, but the science is in the systems. Someone once said, “Motivation is what gets you started; good habits are what keep you going.” Putting good major gift development policies and procedures in place and getting into the habit of living by them is a critical part of making a program sustainable. Dickerson, Bakker & Associates will work with your organization to implement best practices within your major gift development department to ensure that the improvements we put in place will continue not just beyond our term of service but can be consistently applied even if you have a turnover of staff.

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An organization’s brand is perhaps its most important asset. Most people think of brand superficially—considering only those aspects encompassing the “look and feel” of an organization (e.g. name, logo, etc.). Those brand marks are just outward expressions of your brand, however. At a deeper level, BRAND represents a promise to your constituents of those quintessential qualities that define who you are, what you do, and what you stand for as an organization. Doubt about the integrity of an organization’s brand promise almost always has a detrimental effect on giving, regardless of the effectiveness or competency of the fund development staff. Establishing and adhering to a clear focused brand is foundational in your ability to communicate who you are, what you do, where you are going, and how you will get there.

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CULTURE refers to the collective attitudes that characterize and impact the ways that an organization’s people will perceive one another and work together. A “development-friendly” culture provides a fertile soil for giving to flourish. Dickerson, Bakker & Associates has identified six ingredients that together comprise a vibrant, development-friendly culture, and—if consistently applied—will significantly improve your organization’s ability to consistently garner high-level investments from major donors.

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While mainstream donors may be satisfied with a simple understanding of what an organization does, major donors are more interested in what an organization achieves, or—more specifically—will achieve with the money they invest. Major donors want to know how their investment is helping bring about positive change in the lives of people. Major donors increasingly condition giving upon delivery of impact metrics, often requesting information on outcomes even before investing. Organizations that are serious about achieving success in major gift development will therefore do best when they embrace a culture that supports and encourages outcomes thinking.

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