Grant Geek

Laying the groundwork for a successful capital campaign


 

By Debbie Oftedal, Chief Financial Officer, Resource Associates

Deciding to raise the funds to expand or construct a new building can feel like a daunting task as it usually entails raising thousands to millions of dollars. But with some careful planning, a “can do” attitude, and perseverance, a capital campaign can be successful.   As they say, “Rome was not built in a day”. So where do you start on this journey? I suggest you start by taking inventory of what type of resources you already have.

  • Do you have a Campaign Committee?
  • Have you surveyed your current Board to see how much time they spend on this new endeavor, what type of resources they can devote to the campaign?
  • Do you have a Case Statement?
  • Have you established a Campaign Budget based on the construction and staff costs?
  • Does your Committee have at least a two-year multi-faceted fundraising plan?
  • Do you need to expand your donor base, and if yes, how?
  • Have you identified some individuals and/or corporations that would likely give some initial Major Gifts?
  • Do you have a method for tracking potential donors, progress, donations, thank you letters and a recognition system?

Let’s take a look at a couple of these key items:

Do you have a Capital Campaign Committee? Your organization is going to need a group of people that are able and willing to serve for at least 2 years, capable of and willing to secure and/or make large cash and in-kind donations, develop and implement a marketing plan, network in the community, assist in or carry out a fundraising plan, including the ability to coordinate a fundraising event?

Do you need to recruit more Campaign Committee members? If yes, then who:

  • People who are influential. These are people well connect and well respected in your community.
  • People with affluence. People who have the ability to write a large check, or make a large in-kind donation. Plus they will have friends who have the ability to make large donations.
  • People who are outgoing and friendly.
  • People who believe in your campaign.
  • Local or regional celebrities, government officials, media personalities.

If your Board of Directors and staff are already heavily involved in fundraising and grant writing for your organization’s general operating budget, then it is doubtful they have the time to take on this major endeavor without some help.   In addition, you may need people with different types of connections, skills and abilities that are currently on the Board.   Following are some examples of the types of people who could assist you in your efforts:

Local Media: A local television anchor or radio personality can often get their station to produce a commercial, or public service announcement, for free and also give that PSA air time. For special fundraising events, he/she may also be the Master of Ceremonies. An executive or marketing manager of a television or radio station will have contacts and business “friends” who are local advertising agencies, marketing managers at local corporations and businesses who could assist you at a low or donated cost with advertising your campaign. They may also know the top executives and owners of businesses who could make donations to your campaign.

Architect and/or Construction Company: Knowledge about local building codes, filings, etc., plus free or discounted architectural drawings; resources for discounts and/or free construction supplies.

Do you have a Case Statement? You, your board and your senior management may know well why the new building is needed and what types of much needed services it will provide to your community. Plus you may already have general marketing and donor solicitation programs for your organization in general. However, now you need to convince your potential donors, current donors, potential committee members, and your community why your endeavor is needed. As you and your team brainstorm about a case statement, I suggest that you think of yourselves as attorneys preparing for a legal case that you have to convince the judge and jury that you are right, why you are correct, and what the negative outcomes will be if they do not agree with you. You have to gather the facts, statistics, evidence, witnesses, etc. In the same way, you need to develop this type of information as it applies to your campaign, plus look at the “rippling affect”, or how your new services and facility will benefit others.    Whatever you are building will house or assist the delivery of services to certain targeted population(s). However, your services will not only affect your constituents in a positive way, but probably in multiple ways. For instance, your services will have a positive effect on their families and friends in some way to improve their quality of life – i.e. economically, emotionally, and/or physically.   This “rippling affect” increases the impact on your community and the project numbers of people to be served.

To develop your case statement, here are some questions you need to answer: Why does your community need this building and these services? How is your organization and this endeavor going to make a difference in the targeted audience’s lives, as well as their families, and their friends? Why is your organization unique, what have you accomplished in the past, and why should a potential donor have confidence in your ability to carry out these programs and services? What negative outcomes would happen to the recipients of your services and your community if you don’t provide these services?

I hope these tips will encourage you and give you an initial list of things you need to do in order to get going on you Capital Campaign. Resource Associates has a lot of experience working with nonprofits on capital campaigns. If you’d like to speak with us, please let us know.

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