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Tips for a Successful Capital Campaign

Many not-for-profit organizations consider planning and starting a capital campaign. Some goals of a capital campaign are to create an endowment, fund capital improvements such as construction or renovations, and/or purchase land or equipment. Some of the benefits of a capital campaign are increasing public awareness of the not-for-profit organization; therefore, possibly creating new donors and volunteers. A capital campaign requires an abundance of time and planning in order for the campaign to become a success. Here are some tips to help your not-for-profit organization start a successful capital campaign.

Pre-Planning 

  • Define the cause of the capital campaign including how it will impact the community and the people the organization serves.
    • Appoint an individual who can head and manage the capital campaign from beginning to the end.
    • Determine what amounts need to be raised, the timing of a capital campaign, how funds will be raised, and if the Board of Directors/Trustees will have variance power over capital campaign funds. (Variance power grants an organization’s governing board the power to modify any restriction or condition on the distribution of funds for any specified charitable purpose or purposes.)
    • Obtain the Board of Directors/Trustees support as the campaign will involve a significant amount of time and commitment.
    • Perform a feasibility study to determine the organization’s readiness, external factors that could potentially impact the campaign, who the campaign volunteers will be, how to appeal to donors, and who may be potential donors.
     

Planning 

  • Develop a short-term capital campaign strategy committee. 
    • Consider recruiting major donors for opinions and ideas.
    • Create a campaign timeframe and budget. The budget should include the operating costs associated with the capital campaign such as professional fees for marketing or consulting and printing of brochures and other collateral material.
    • Build on top of the brand of the organization. The identity and mission of the not-for-profit organization and capital campaign should be cohesive.
     
  • Determine a financial goal for the campaign.
    • Create the start and end dates of the campaign.
    • Establish a reasonable financial goal.
     
  • Financial, Development and Marketing Departments must create fundraising plans to cover the following actions:
    • Develop capital campaign marketing materials.
    • Establish a gift acceptance policy.
    • Ensure Donor Acknowledgement Letters are written in accordance with IRS guidelines.
    • Review pledge card/letter wording.
     
  • Meet with staff to inform them of the campaign and get their buy-in.

Other Tips 

  • Maintain good financial donor records including any restrictions on gifts and form of payment.
  • Acknowledge the Board and employee efforts before, during and at the end of the capital campaign.
  • Consider offering naming opportunities.
     
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