Building Blocks

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Are you ready for a capital campaign? Part 1

July 29, 2016

When the phone rings and I hear the potential client say “capital campaign”, our conversation begins with evaluating the organization’s readiness.

Are you ready for a capital campaign? Your organization may have reached capacity. You may need to take your work to the next level. You might need to relocate to reduce expenses or better serve clients. But are you truly ready for a capital campaign?

Capital campaigns are public image makers…or breakers. Nonprofits cannot afford to run a campaign and not be successful at its end. A capital campaign is a time to fulfil those unmet needs for your organization and achieve vision but it’s also a critical time to gain donor respect, loyalty and investment.

For many organizations capital campaigns are once in a lifetime occurrences and you want to be sure you get it right. The first step to readiness is taking the time and allocating the resources needed to plan for a campaign.

In the last year or so we’ve worked with clients such as the Austin Parks Foundation, AGE of Central Texas, Big Brothers Big Sisters, KIPP Austin Public Schools, and the Mexic-Arte Museum to get them ready for various capital campaigns. They all came to us in different stages of their planning and we jumped right in with them. Our team is known for meeting our clients where they’re at and providing customized consulting to meet their needs. Each client we engage with is special and has a unique culture. That is what keeps it fun and exciting for me. Each campaign is so different than the last and with that comes varied approaches to ensuring readiness and planning the campaign.

In two of the above cases we conducted a traditional feasibility study. I highly recommend a feasibility study if your organization has never had a campaign before or its last campaign was many years ago. Feasibility studies test your case for support, the scope of the campaign, and your potential donors’ reaction to the vision and likeliness to support it philanthropically. A good feasibility study results in a campaign plan that is both favored by the potential donor community and achievable.

In other cases the clients’ timeline didn’t allow for a 3-4 month feasibility study in advance of their campaign. We engaged with them in a campaign planning project where we quickly identified areas needing attention while the campaign was already underway. We went straight to training and equipping volunteers for fundraising. Without the broad knowledge gained from a feasibility study, we hit some bumps along the way and needed to be flexible and responsive as the campaign plan unfolded but in partnership with their strong development staff we were able to plan and support the execution of their successful fundraising efforts.

In the last case, the development director reached out to us very early in the organization’s campaign planning process. This allowed us to work together on a long term readiness plan beginning with board development . A strong and committed board is key to a successful campaign. Our team made recommendations to strengthen board structure, composition, and operations with special attention to preparing the volunteers to assist with and oversee fundraising and soon a major capital campaign.

There are many ways we can support your campaign planning and ensure you are truly ready for a capital campaign…a wildly successful one at that! Stay tuned for Are you ready for a capital campaign? Part 2.

Mollie Butler, Founder