How nonprofits can successfully execute a capital campaign
When your not-for-profit desperately needs a new facility, costly equipment or an endowment, a capital campaign can be the best way to raise funds. But to be successful, a campaign requires strong leadership, extensive planning and dedicated participants.
Leading the troops
Capital campaigns generally are long-term projects — often lasting three or more years. To carry out yours, you need a champion with vision and stamina. Consider board members or look to leaders in the greater community with such qualifications as:
- A fundraising track record,
- Knowledge of your community and local issues,
- The ability to motivate others, and
- Time to attend planning sessions and fundraising activities.
Most capital campaigns require a small army to raise funds through direct mail, email solicitations, direct solicitations and special events. In addition to staff and board members, reach out to current volunteers, like-minded community groups and clients who’ve benefited from your services.
Identify a large group — say 1,000 individuals — to solicit for donations. Draw your list from past donors, area business owners, board members, volunteers and other likely prospects. Then narrow that list to the 100 largest potential donors and talk to them first. Secure large gifts before pursuing anything under $1,000.
Be sure to train team members on how to solicit funds and provide them with sample scripts. To help volunteers make effective phone solicitations, record a few calls and play them back for the group to critique.
Focus on execution
It’s important to ensure that key constituents share your fundraising vision and strategies for reaching the campaign’s goals. Break down your overall goal into smaller objectives and celebrate when you reach each one. Also regularly report gifts, track your progress toward reaching your ultimate goal and measure the effectiveness of your activities.
Also pay attention to how you craft your message. Potential donors must see your organization as capable and strong, but also as the same group they’ve championed for years. Instead of focusing on what donations will do for your nonprofit, show potential donors the impact on their community.
Many measures of success
You’ll know you’ve reached your goal when you’ve raised a certain dollar amount. But don’t forget about other measures of success, such as return on investment or percentage of past donors contributing. We can help you identify the most valuable metrics.
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