Building Blocks

Raising our community one story at a time.


Are you ready for a capital campaign? Part 2

August 5, 2016

I hope you enjoyed my last blog about the various ways you can prepare your organization for a capital campaign. As I pointed out there is no set way to get ready for your campaign. You can dive right in and plan as you go; you can gain the critical feedback and measure potential financial support through a feasibility study; or you can strengthen components that will lead to the ultimate success of your campaign and organization.

The team at Butler is happy to help you consider the approach that’s best for your organization. To understand your organization’s readiness, we’ll review the following six criteria which we believe are key to a successful campaign.

1. An Urgent Need - Can you clearly demonstrate why you need a larger or more updated space, and how your project is part of a strategic growth plan? Is there compelling reason why this must be accomplished sooner rather than later? Does your case for support inspire a call to action?

2. Reputation and Community Position - A campaign is an opportunity to raise the profile of your organization within the community and involve people in your mission. What do people know about you now? Is your mission understood or are there misconceptions? Do they trust that you will be good stewards of their gifts and do they have confidence in your ability to reach your goals?

3. Established Giving by Individuals - Where does your organizational revenue come from, and do you have an established individual giving program? Many corporations and foundations will not give to capital needs, particularly if they don’t have a prior relationship with the organization. Do you have individuals who have the capacity to make significant stretch gifts to your campaign, even if they have never given to you at that level before? Do you know who will likely be the lead donor to your campaign?

4. A Committed, Engaged Board of Directors - As leaders and the face for the organization in the community, it is critical that your board members embrace the organization's mission and vision. They must be committed through sharing their personal network, their willingness to support and oversee the campaign for many years, and by making a personally meaningful gift at the onset of the campaign. It is an important sign of confidence to prospective donors when an organization is able to report that 100% of the board has made a financial commitment, in writing, to the campaign.

5. A Trained and Active Campaign Committee - Every capital campaign requires leadership and dedication. Your capital campaign committee drives the campaign, ensuring that the fundraising plan is vetted thoughtfully and then executed in a timely and donor-centered way. They help to deepen existing relationships and bring new prospective donors to the organization. The committee is the week-to-week owner of the campaign, along with staff and counsel, and their service is an invaluable part of successful fundraising.

6. Ample Infrastructure and Staffing - A capital campaign is a huge undertaking, above and beyond the ongoing duties of staff, particularly for your development and executive staff. Do they have the tools (database, systems, online giving, and expertise) and the bandwidth to add a well-run campaign to their responsibilities and still ensure the day-to-day needs of the organization are met? If not, are you willing to invest in these critical resources?

Whether you are ready today or just beginning your planning, I look forward to hearing from you. As a highly motivated, goal oriented, problem solver, I love working on capital campaigns. I think I was born for this work! Tremendous, life-changing, nerve-wracking fundraising efforts are challenging, dynamic and exciting to me. I founded Butler Nonprofit Consulting to meet the unique needs of our community’s growing nonprofit community, specifically to provide customized consulting for capital fundraising efforts. Our mission: we empower nonprofits to raise the capital that builds our community by enabling them to cultivate the generosity of our neighbors. As we embark on our 6th year in business, let me say it is a pleasure to serve our community in this way. Thank you!

Mollie Butler, Founder