Operations

7 Steps to Mounting a Capital Campaign

| Updated July 11, 2018

Simple steps from planning to conclusion

Ready to kick off a capital campaign? Here's a step-by-step guide.

1. Define the need — and aim high

Capital campaigns are usually for large-scale physical projects. Sometimes called bricks-and-mortar campaigns, they fund new building and renovation projects. These are campaigns that should only be conducted once in a while, so it's important to set goals and expectations high — and put strong plans in place to make success possible.

2. Convene a capital campaign committee

Ideally, the capital campaign committee includes representatives from both the board and the staff. The committee plans all stages of the capital campaign process and uses their own pledged support to encourage other potential donors.

3. Conduct a feasibility study

A feasibility study will help you estimate the success and scale of the campaign. A typical feasibility study involves interviews with 20 to 50 current and former board members, staff, donors and others involved in the organization. The study researches perceptions of the organization among the donor community, as well as among community members and potential clients. The study also gives potential donors a heads-up that the campaign is beginning.

4. Calculate the cost of the campaign

When looking at the numbers, make sure to include the cost of mounting the campaign itself. For example, will it involve advertising? Special events? In general, the cost of running a capital campaign should be less than 10 percent of the campaign goal.

5. Identify the level of contributions from board members and other leaders

At least 30 percent of total capital need should be dedicated before beginning the campaign. These leadership pledges are essential for getting the campaign off the ground.

6. Consider other funding sources

Individual donors are typically the primary source of funding for a capital campaign. To reach as many donors as possible, you might mount an online crowdfunding campaign. Don't exclude other potential sources of funds, however, including foundation and government grants and corporate philanthropy. Also include in-kind donations, such as furniture, building materials and labor. Corporate donors may be particularly helpful in this regard.

7. Recognize donors

Offer naming honors for buildings, benches, windows, walkways, gardens — anything you can put a nameplate on. Ideally, you'll include this strategy in the planning stages of the campaign so that recognizing major donors is a natural conclusion to the project.

Ultimately, a capital campaign's success isn't measured only in terms of campaign goals. Capital campaigns can help attract and retain major donors for future fundraising efforts as well. Appropriate donor recognition and gratitude may lead to successful long-term funding relationships.

MissionBox editorial content is offered as guidance only, and is not meant, nor should it be construed as, a replacement for certified, professional expertise.

References

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Baltimore-based writer and educator