Tips to Plan a Successful Capital Campaign

Capital Campaign Definition: A capital campaign is a fundraising strategy that’s particularly useful for achieving long term goals. This type of campaign is also known as a brick-and-mortar campaign, because it’s traditionally used to erect buildings or add on a new wing to an already existing structure.

Capital campaigns are a great way to get the funding you need to expand your organization with a new building, hospital wing, or state-of-the-art equipment. If you’re kicking off this type of fundraising, you need to make sure you’re properly prepared, so follow these simple tips from your friends at iWave and also check out our capital campaign guide.

  1. Assemble a Trustworthy Team

Before you start your capital campaign, it’s crucial you find the ideal team. Having the right people working for your cause is invaluable. Make sure you’re choosing people who not only believe in your mission and want to see your organization succeed, but people with strong organizational skills as well.

Some team members you’ll need to assign:

  • Campaign Chair
  • Board Members
  • Planning Committee
  • Steering Committee

Related: Get the Capital Campaign Cheat Sheet

  1. Determine Your Campaign’s Overall Goal

The most hardworking teams need goals to work towards. Sit down with your builders, contactors, and anyone else who will be working on your campaign to get an accurate estimate of what your plan will cost. Then, set your end goal higher than this amount to account for unexpected costs, so you can feel confident you’ll achieve what you set out to accomplish.

  1. Set a Strict Deadline for your Capital Campaign

After establishing an overall end goal, the next step is to determine when you need to achieve this goal by. Whether you have a building deadline or you need a new library by next semester, base your due date on environmental factors as well as personal goals.

Then, work with your team to break this down into smaller goals along the way. Determine how much you need to fundraise in the initial private (quiet) phase as well as how much you hope to receive in the public portion of fundraising.

  1. Review Past Successes and Areas of Improvement

As a nonprofit you know you’re always growing and learning. Your organization was born from nothing but an idea and grew into an organization that changes people lives. In order to achieve this success, you’ve needed to learn from your past mistakes.

Sit down with your team to discuss your most recent fundraising efforts. What went wrong? What went right? How can you make this capital campaign even more successful?

  1. Set a Budget for your Campaign

Obviously, the goal of a capital campaign is to earn money for your new building or equipment. However, there are times where you may need to spend extra money to get there. Therefore, it’s important you and your team lay out a strict budget for spending.

Some of the items you may want to figure into your budget include:

  • Fundraising events

From hosting galas for your major donors to online auctions, there’s a variety of fundraising events you may want to host to get more donations to your cause.

  • Education

Spreading the message of your cause is crucial if you want to gain more funding. You may want to hire someone to take control of your social media or a copywriter to create informational blog posts about your capital campaign.

  • Marketing materials

Some marketing materials you may want to invest in include brochures, letters, pledge cards, and online advertising. You also have the option to stay in house for advertising or to reach out to a larger agency with tons of experience.

  1. Establish Contingency Plans

All fundraising runs into bumps in the road, and your capital campaign most likely will, too. Have your board members or planning committee meet before you launch your campaign to discuss how to go about any potential setbacks. Make sure they discuss how to prevent some roadblocks from occurring altogether as well, making everyone more prepared for whatever comes your way during fundraising.

  1. Conduct Wealth Screenings

Typically, around 70 percent of capital campaign fundraising is done during the private phase. As such, it’s crucial you’re reaching out to the right potential donors with the right gift asks. To ensure you get the donations your cause needs, conduct wealth screenings prior to officially launching your capital campaign.

You can conduct these wealth screenings in one of two ways. First, you can hire a team to comb through files and personal records to find the ideal donors for your cause. You’ll want to consider not only the propensity to give but how likely they are to contribute to your specific cause as well. If someone has given to likeminded organizations in the past, they’re more likely to donate to you as well.

You second option is to invest in a software platform that can perform these wealth screenings for you. The proper technology can help you save hundreds of valuable hours by scanning information faster than you can read through them.

  1. Hold Regular Meetings

After you officially launch your campaign, it’s important you keep everyone on your team updated. Host weekly or monthly meetings with your steering committee and board members to ensure everyone knows what milestones you’re working towards in addition to making sure everyone is staying on target.

  1. Keep Your Public Updated

Not only should your team stay updated, but so should your audience. Through your website and social media pages, let everyone know what steppingstones you’ve reached along with how your new project will improve the community. This will help keep everyone excited about your mission.

  1. Engage Your Audience

Fundraising is much more successful when you get people engaged. In the private phase you can offer incentives such as naming rights to pillars and halls. When you open to the public, consider hosting online events like auctions which are fun and can also reach donors all over the world.

Learn More about our Fundraising Software for your Capital Campaign Today!

iWave provides a next-generation platform built on billions of datapoints designed to help you uncover the right donors for your cause. If you’re looking to get ahead in the private fundraising stage of a capital campaign, reach out to us today to schedule a demo or a free fundraising assessment. Learn more about how we can tailor our software to your specific needs!


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