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5 Secrets to a Successful Capital Campaign


5 Secrets to a Successful Capital Campaign

A Capital Campaign can be a daunting undertaking, especially after you realize how many thousands or millions of dollars are needed to reach your goal. Take a deep breath, you are not alone. People who have gone before you have found the following “secrets” to be helpful to their success.

The Right People: If you are an Executive Director or Capital Campaign Chair, you can’t do this alone. You may be extremely dedicated, connected, and a real “go getter”, but you will need people to help you. Having a Campaign Committee is crucial to your success. The more people you have working on this project, and who are also the “right” people, the faster you will reach your Campaign budget goals. You need people of “influence” who are well connected, well known and well respected in the community who can convince their friends and business associates that your Campaign is worthwhile to either give cash, donate materials, or their time. In addition, you need people of “affluence”, who can write a large check and convince their friends to do the same. Retired executives who can devote a lot of time to your Campaign in a professional manner can be very beneficial. Professionals that donate their time can be essential and a cost saving: A marketing pro, graphic artist, printing company owner, architect, accountant, or an attorney.

Good Time Management: Prepare yourself and others on the Committee for spending a lot of time for a couple of years on this project. One of the documents I would have your Committee complete would include a questionnaire asking them what they would like to do for the Campaign and about how many hours each month they are willing to devote to this project. Reliability is vital and often tied to time management.

Most people do not realize how much of their work and personal time it takes. Do you need to give up something temporarily? Sometimes you are going to have to give up evenings and a Saturday with your family to meet with potential donors, attend Committee meetings, and to help coordinate a special event. If you already work and have volunteered to help, does your company support you working on this Campaign during normal business hours?

Diversity in Funding Resources: It is essential to not have all your eggs in one basket. Don’t depend on a handful of loyal past donors and corporations, one grant, or just one type of fundraising. Different methods of fundraising have their own benefits for your Campaign and combined reach a broader audience of potential donors.   For instance, face-to-face meetings with a wealthy individual or corporate executive usually reap larger donations for much less cost and time than other methods. Special Events take a lot of work and time, but are wonderful for giving donors recognition and some fun, while marketing your Campaign to multiple audiences through donated or discounted television, radio, and print marketing.

Professional Campaign Materials:  At the very least your organization is going to need a well-written letter and attractive, catchy brochure that includes the “case” your Committee has developed for this Campaign. Pretend you are an attorney, pleading your case before the jury; what evidence do you have that your Campaign is needed in your community?  Your materials should contain concise information on why your community needs this building, what types of programs it is housing, who will you be serving, local and/or national statistics in reference to the need you are filling, what your organization’s past achievements and strengths are, what impact your organization has made on your targeted audience(s), how your organization is unique in comparison to others that may be providing a similar service, a short story and/or quote from those who have benefited from your programs, and the endorsement of community leaders. If you include photos of people who need your services and photos of those who have benefited in the past, they tell your story in seconds, and are likely to keep the attention of the reader.

Never Ending Donor List: It is important to think of this list as a never-ending work in progress. Each member on your Campaign Committee should be dedicated to adding names, clubs, groups, small company owners, and corporate executives to your donor list. In addition, you will need staff or volunteers dedicated to updating and re-categorizing the list as needed. If you have the funds, you can purchase donor lists, but many nonprofits do not have the funds to pay for a list. Don’t be shy about asking people who support your campaign with cash or in-kind gifts if they know others who may be supportive.  The “six degrees of separation” theory is to your advantage. Your organization is going to need funds to support the new programs made by possible your facility. As time goes on, some donors support will decline, and you need to replenish those.

We hope these concepts are a help to your organization, and best wishes in your worthy endeavor.

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