Should Your Organization Start a Capital Campaign?

What is a capital campaign?

A capital campaign is usually a project started to raise funds for a specific goal with a defined start and end date. Often, they focus on a brickandmortar project, such as expansion or construction of a new building.  

Setting up a capital campaign has a lot of behind the scenes work but can drive major donors to your organization. According to Rainmaking: The Fundraiser’s Guide to landing Major Gifts, capital campaign donors “come from outside the donor base.” Further, Rainmaking explains new major donors can be driven to give to a capital campaign because of the allure of leaving a legacy through naming a room or building.  

How do you start a capital campaign?

Driving new donors sounds great, but what goes into starting a capital campaign? In addition to creating a detailed plan (we recommend Donor Search’s comprehensive guide), consider the questions below before starting a capital campaign.  

Does our organization have the resources to run a capital campaign? 

Along with having an available budget for a capital campaign, other resources will be needed. Look at the financial stability of your organization and the abilities of your staff. Do you have the budget and capacity to focus your organizations efforts on a high-magnitude campaign? Is your board supportive and ready to help? We recommend using AFP Global’s Campaign Readiness Evaluation to better understand the necessary resources.   

Do we have prospective leadership gifts for this project? 

Sometimes known as The Quiet Phase, this stage is spent drumming up support from those who will give the largest gifts to the campaign. AFP Global explains that “5-10 percent of donors will provide 90-95 percent of the goal of the campaign” It is essential to have these leadership gift prospects in mind before starting.  

Deciding to run a capital campaign can be an excellent way to raise significant funds for an important project and increase interest in your organization from new donors. Creating a detailed plan for your capital campaign can lead to success from start to finish and ultimately use your organization’s resources most effectively. However, a capital campaign can be a heavy lift for any organization. Decide if a capital campaign is right for your organization by carefully reviewing the steps required to complete the project.   

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