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How to plan a capital campaign launch

By August 12, 2021September 8th, 2021Steier Tips

I wish I could say that launching a capital campaign was as easy as 1-2-3 – meaning you have three easy steps to follow. The process contains more steps than that – and each is critical to your organization’s success.

The first step is to determine the need for a capital campaign. Do you need to build an education center? Do you need to reduce debt or strengthen an endowment? Do you need support for operations? Notice the emphasis on “need.” We know from experience that donors prefer to fund needs rather than wants. Donors will support projects that are mission-driven.

Conflict of interest alert: The next step involves determining whether you can conduct a planning study (more on that in a bit) and campaign on your own or whether you need professional assistance from an organization that, say, has 25 years of experience. FYI: We turn 25 in 2022. We’d love to discuss with you the importance of using a professional fundraising firm – but that’s another conversation.

Other steps will follow in launching a campaign:

  • Generate support from your organization’s leadership and key stakeholders. Give them advance notice.
  • Conduct a planning study, which serves as a roadmap for a successful campaign. A study will tell you what people think about your proposed project and whether they will support it. We think of a study as step No. 1 to a successful campaign.
  • Develop your donor prospect list and begin to think about how to approach each.
  • Create your campaign materials.
  • Recruit volunteers to help with the effort.
  • Kick off your campaign with a flourish. Be creative. Generate excitement for what you hope to do.
  • Unapologetically ask for support.

Confession: We left out a few critical steps, which will give us something to discuss when we visit about your goals and how we can help you achieve them. We look forward to that conversation.

If you are considering a capital campaign, please contact me.