your guide to capital campaigns

 

Are you considering starting a capital campaign for your nonprofit organization’s next big project? Before embarking on your fundraising journey, there are some crucial questions you need to ask yourself.

At iWave, our mission is to empower nonprofit organizations of all sizes. We do so through our next-generation fundraising platform, which helps identify and cultivate the best possible donors for a cause.

Let’s see how we can leverage a tool like this to accomplish big capital campaign goals!

What is a Capital Campaign?

By definition, a capital campaign is an organized effort to raise funding within a predetermined time period. In simple terms, capital campaigns raise the funds you need to tackle big projects like new construction or other organizational expansions.

Some of the most common capital campaign goals include:

  • Construction of a new building
  • Expansion of an existing building
  • New land acquisitions
  • Purchase of equipment or supplies

Capital campaigns are unique since they occur in two phases: quiet (private) and public. These campaigns are always highly specific in their end goals and thoroughly planned out beforehand.

Your nonprofit organization is constantly looking for charitable gifts to help improve the mission overall, but this type of fundraising is for those massive goals or undertakings you need to grow and thrive.

Who Can Use a Capital Campaign?

Any nonprofit organization—no matter how big or small—can utilize a capital campaign as a source of fundraising. Usually though, the two main types of organizations that run capital campaigns are healthcare institutions (hospitals, treatment centers, hospices, etc.) and educational organizations (universities, private high schools, independent schools, etc.).

These groups often need to fund building projects to expand their organization. If a university’s in need of a new library, for example, they could run a capital campaign to raise the construction funds. A campaign like this always has a clear end goal and timeframe, making it easier to acquire new land and facilities when you most need them.

Achieve your Goals with Careful Planning and the Right Team

The best way to run your capital campaign is with a highly organized team. Before launching, you may need to assign all the following positions:

  • Campaign Chair: Oversees committees and acts as an ambassador for your campaign within your nonprofit organization. During the first year of the campaign, this person will most likely focus 75 to 80 percent of their time on the project. Therefore, it’s crucial you’re choose someone who can fully devote their time and selecting the right staff members to support them as well.
  • Planning Committee: Plans your campaign and keeps you on track. These members need to be highly organized to stay on your strict fundraising schedule.
  • Steering Committee: Directly involved with the maintenance of your campaign. Ensures everything goes according to plan and comes up with crisis plans if needed.
  • Board Members: Involved in day-to-day planning and big picture discussions. Board members can also serve on committees if they have the time.
  • General Staff: Organizes major gift officers, prospect researchers, volunteer coordinators, event planners, marketing coordinators, and anything else your campaign may need. Develop smaller committees with your staff and volunteers as needed along the way.

The success of your campaign hinges on a dedicated and hardworking staff. Choosing the right people will help get you on the right path.

When Should You Launch a Capital Campaign?

If your hospital needs to build a new wing by next spring, a capital campaign is a great way to jumpstart the process and methodically raise the money you need. Some of the most common factors leading to the need for a capital campaign include:

  1. Your organization needs a new space and/or resources

Have you been sharing your space for your afterschool program with another organization? A capital campaign can help you get started on the construction of your own community center where you can continue to care for underprivileged kids.

  1. You’ve outgrown your space

You may have your own space now, like a hospital, but as your organization has grown have found the need for a new wing. You can also utilize this type of fundraising to get construction competed.

  1. You want a tangible legacy

This reason is not as common, but you may find that your nonprofit wants to leave a lasting impact on the community in the form of a new building. Raise the necessary funds through a capital campaign.

Once you’ve carefully planned and identified your team, your timeframe, and your end goal, you should be ready to launch your capital campaign! Spend the time finding the right volunteers to work on this campaign and then get started.

How are Capital Campaign Goals Achieved?

As a member of a nonprofit, you’re no stranger to hard work. You know good things come to those who plan ahead and work diligently.

Careful planning is a key ingredient in capital campaign success. Firm deadlines with well-defined goal dates will help you stay motivated and on track. Follow this simple timeline to achieve success:

  1. Planning

Identify your end goal and put together the right team to accomplish the task. Here is where you’ll establish your timeline along with smaller goals along the way. This is also a great time to uncover potential donors with iWave’s wealth screening platform and to develop your fundraising plan.

  1. Quiet Phase

Reach out to the potential donors you’ve identified in the planning phase to raise the bulk of your gifts. Our fundraising platform also helps uncover capacity to give along with ability. Going to potential donors with the right ask ensures no gifts are left untapped, and you get the right amount of funding.

  1. Kick-Off

Before going public, you want to formally launch your campaign. At this stage, you can hold a conference or send out a press release about your mission. During this time, also contact any past supporters or post in public forums.

  1. Public Phase

This is your last step to raise the funds you need and accomplish your end goal. Appeal to the public to receive smaller donations from a large pool of people. You can also host donation events online to reach a wide audience and finalize your campaign quickly.

Then it’s time to finish out your project and hold a wrap-up party to thank your staff and major donors.

  1. Wrap-Up and Assessment

After the public phase has successfully helped you reach your end goal, gather your team and reflect on the process. Some important questions to ask yourself and your staff include:

  • What worked?
  • What wasn’t as effective as anticipated?
  • How could we build out and hone the process for future campaigns?

Even if you don’t foresee the need to launch capital campaigns in the future, understanding what was effective about your strategy can assist with your fundraising events for years to come. At this time, make sure to write personalized thank you letters to your major donors to keep their support moving forward.

No one wants to spend time and resources going after the wrong donors. Every day matters when you have a tight timeframe to achieve a specific goal. The public phase will help you fill in the gaps, but the more successful your quiet phase, the better prepared you will be.

iWave is ready to help you maximize your charitable gifts with an in-depth breakdown of the capital campaign process in our free reference guide.

Why Trust iWave to Help Your Capital Campaign?

As mentioned above, capital campaigns are broken up into two phases: quiet and public. During the quiet phase you not only need to make sure you’re reaching out to the right donors, but you need to know your campaign will be successful before you even start.

By performing a feasibility study, you’ll survey already existing donors to see how likely they are to contribute to your cause. If you’re not seeing the results you expected, this is where a wealth screening comes in.

Using an advanced fundraising platform, like iWave, you’ll be able to scan for and uncover the right major gift donors for your campaign. This planning will help lead to a more successful campaign overall.

Making the Right Asks at the Right Time

Since the quiet phase is where the majority of your donations will come from, it’s not only crucial you know who to ask but how much to ask for as well.

Let’s look at our hospital example again. When building your new wing, you may want to reach out to former patients. Many may be willing to assist the institution that saved their life! Our fundraising platform can help you create a detailed, organized list of satisfied patients who have the inclination and capacity to give.

We can also show you the history and inclination of potential donors. Has a local philanthropist given to hospital programs or medical research in the past? We’ll search their history to show you if they’re likely to support your mission.

Lastly, it’s essential you ask for the right amount of money. Our next generation platform will analyze billions of data points to help identify the best amount to ask for, ensuring no money is left on the table. Thanks to iWave, you’ll be able to ask with confidence and set a more successful capital campaign into motion.

The best part is our platform can be accessed right from your smartphone. Brush up on the train or on the airplane on the way to your next ask to ensure you’re fully prepared for the big meeting.

Are You Ready to Fundraise Smarter?

Think a capital campaign is the right way to go for your next project? iWave is ready to get you started with the planning stage.

Request a free demo today to see our technology in action. We can also set up a fundraising assessment with you to show you how we can tailor our technology to your specific needs. Throughout the length of your campaign and beyond, our team will gladly work one-on-one with you to ensure you’re utilizing our software to its peak ability.

Let’s build a solid foundation for fundraising together. Contact us today to get started!