A capital campaign is a large-scale effort conducted by a nonprofit organization in order to bring in a large injection of capital investment.
What is a capital campaign?
A capital campaign is a multi-faceted effort to reach a significant financial goal. For example, a nonprofit might undertake a capital campaign when looking for funding for a new office building, a major piece of equipment, or a relocation fund.
Capital campaigns usually have a single objective and a specific timeframe to reach the financial goal; the campaign is conducted outside the regular programs and funding efforts for a given year.
How long do capital campaigns last?
Although the timeline varies given the scope of the project, capital campaigns usually run over the course of a year, somewhere between a six- and twelve-month period.
What is the objective of a capital campaign?
The objective of your capital campaign is to raise funds for whatever program, service, or need requires a significant capital investment.
Sample objectives include raising money for:
- A new building
- An expansion of services
- A large-scale development project
- A grant, scholarship, or endowment
What does your nonprofit need to know before undertaking a capital campaign?
Capital campaigns tend to be time consuming and will most likely be the focus of any nonprofit’s fundraising activities for a considerable period of time. Many nonprofits hire consultants who work solely on capital campaigns to support your team and stretch your bandwidth.
What are the benefits of a capital campaign?
There are many benefits to this kind of large-scale fundraising drive. Those benefits include things like:
- Rallying an energized supporter base to support your mission
- Increasing the likelihood of attracting new major donors
- Motivating established donors to give again
- Engaging the local press and increasing your nonprofit’s public profile
How do you plan a capital campaign?
First, you need to decide what your objective is, how much money you need to fund that objective, and how long you think it will take to raise the funds.
After you lay out that blueprint, you need to assemble the team and resources, kick off your campaign, publicly launch the campaign, and then evaluate the campaign results.
Assembling the team and resources
- Bring the people who will work on the campaign together, give them concrete deliverables, and set deadlines for each task.
- Create the budget and assign respective resources to the campaign leaders.
- Hold regular update meetings and make adjustments to your strategy and tactics as necessary.
- Reach out to key stakeholders, supporters, and donors who will participate in your campaign roll-out.
Kicking off your campaign
Before you publicly launch your campaign, let your most significant contributors know what you’re doing and why you’re making an additional ask of them. Industry experts suggest 75% of your ultimate goal can be reached in this initial period. This figure will vary depending on the size, scale, location, and action plan for your campaign.
Publicly launching your campaign
Once you’re ready to launch, reach out to press, email your supporter base, post on social media, and send your direct mail appeals.
Evaluating your campaign
After you reach your goal, it’s time to gather as much information as you can about the campaign and how your efforts unfolded. What will this money mean for your organization? What can you do in the future to ensure future fundraising efforts are successful? What would you do differently next time around?
This is also the time when you want to go back and thank your donors again for supporting your efforts.