Eight capital campaign strategies that work


Every capital campaign is different. The organization’s mission and vision, the campaign goals, the donor base, the availability of willing volunteers – all of these factors contribute to making each project unique.

However, there are techniques that apply to almost all organizations. Here are eight capital campaign strategies that work:

Campaign planning studies: Even before a decision is made about whether to conduct a campaign, a thorough campaign planning study will set you on the path for future success. A study will test support for the proposed projects, help you establish realistic goals and identify potential donors and volunteers. Beyond that, your study will build ownership and goodwill among your most supportive donors. A study will also identify any potential obstacles or questions that need to be answered.

Face-to-face requests: Once a campaign moves into the solicitation phase, the personal touch becomes even more important. An Indiana University study found that donors asked to give in person by someone they knew donated 19 percent more than when approached through an email, mail or telephone request, and 42 percent more in faith-based campaigns. Our own research supports this approach. A face-to-face request reinforces the impression that this is an important project and one worthy of the donor’s attention and support. It also offers more of an opportunity for questions to be asked and answered.

Testimonials: It matters to us what others think about a project, especially if we know and respect the other people. Compelling testimonials, such as those done by lay members during church services, can give a project a human element that raises interest and momentum dramatically.

Matching gifts: Who wouldn’t want their $1 donation to automatically become $2? Or better yet, their $100,000 donation to become $200,000? Matching gifts inspire others to donate, whether the goal is other large gifts or increased participation across all donor levels.

Publicly thanking supporters: Prospects hesitant to donate can be persuaded simply by knowing who else is on board. For example, creating a “Wall of Thanks” that lists campaign supporters can be the nudge that someone might need.

Videos: Visual proof of an organization’s mission and needs – as well as how a project will make an impact – can quickly turn an unsure prospect into a full supporter. Videos can include such things as “then and now” pictures, architectural renderings and comments from leaders and supporters.

Commitment weekends: These group solicitations take place near the end of the public phase and give those who have put off a decision an important opportunity to join in. For churches, these can be held during services in a way that puts pen and paper in the hands of many supporters who just haven’t gotten around to making a pledge. And it’s one more opportunity to hear from an organizational leader about why participation is important and how a project will make an impact.

Persistence: Getting a decision from a donor is not always a simple task. But it’s often worth the effort to continue to reach out until a decision is made. The “right time” for a donor may not be until the next time you call.

With more than 20 years of fundraising experience, the Steier Group knows many capital campaign strategies that work and will customize our capital campaign fundraising services to best fit your organization. I encourage you to contact me if you have any questions regarding the professional services of the Steier Group.

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