amy eisenstein

We kicked off the month of December with a webinar from our friends at CampaignCounsel.org. titled Mapping Your Capital Campaign for 2021: A Roadmap for Today’s Challenges that explored how your nonprofit can move forward with its capital campaign in the current environment.

If you missed the webinar, catch up by watching the recording here. We connected with the CampaignCounsel.org team after the webinar to answer some of the questions that we didn’t get to in the live event. Read their answers below:

 

Q: Have you seen any movement away from international giving to keep giving “close to home” in this crisis that is so personal for everyone? (We are an international poverty nonprofit)

A: We sponsored a study a few months ago that focused on how the pandemic has impacted giving. One of the findings was that donors are focusing more on local projects. That said, the most important factor influencing their giving was mission – they give to what moves them personally.

 

Q: The example who gave is a short-term message because the pandemic will eventually end. How do you reframe the message so it is relevant post-pandemic as well?

A: We are encouraging our clients to look at the future with social distancing in mind – the public spaces they are building/improving should be flexible enough to accommodate it. At this point, no one knows what the post-pandemic messaging will need to be. But ensuring you continue incorporating the impact of COVID on your nonprofit and, if applicable, the people you serve, will keep your message relevant.

 

Q: We are a youth symphony. The arts community has been hit very hard. How do we compete with other organizations the are focused on community needs when we are all asking at the same time? 

A: Reinforce your immediate need. For most organizations like yours, it’s overhead. Remind your long-time donors that their ongoing support will ensure that the symphony is available once the threat is over. Now’s a great time with vaccines coming out. Also, make people aware of success and/or failure you’re having with philanthropic and government support. You will get more donations if you can evidence the need you have and the efforts you have made. It may not be a great time to try to acquire new donors but doing what you can to retain and reacquire your previous donors could be a helpful approach if you’re competing against other arts organizations in your area.

Q: You know you need a capital campaign to sustain your organization in the future but the Board is hesitant to even start a feasibility study, how do you convince them it’s needed to help transition into a campaign?

A: You might share with your board the deliverables that come out of a feasibility study and how they will help to guide a capital campaign. A good feasibility study should provide a fundraising audit on your organization’s current capacity and any necessary changes needed; findings from personal interviews with your top donors, board members, and administrative staff; a draft case for support; and a campaign plan.

Very few organizations have the experience and expertise to conduct their own feasibility study. Here’s how to tell if you can do it alone or not at all:

  • Nearly all of your development staff have helped lead one or more capital campaigns within the last five years.
  • Staff and board have experience making professional six-to-seven-figure gift solicitations.
  • The organization has a history of lead donors that can and will make lead gifts (10% or more of the total goal) to the project.
  • The organization has a case for support that addresses community needs and benefits.

 

Remember too that even the largest nonprofits often bring in experienced consultants to conduct feasibility studies because they know that they’ll get more honest information from potential donors. Additionally, the seasoned philanthropists in your community will expect to have a feasibility study conversation with a consultant; doing so will also add credibility to your campaign.