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Capital Campaign Timeline Best Practices - Steier Group

How to plan a capital campaign launch

By Steier 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…

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Fundraising and development during the coronavirus pandemic

By Steier Tips

These are unprecedented times. While there is understandably a lot of anxiety and uncertainty about what a nonprofit organization should do as the economy struggles and much of society shuts down, certain truths are unchanged. Your organization remains committed to achieving its mission, your needs are real, and your mission relies upon timely and effective fundraising. The Steier Group is no stranger to advancing our clients’ mission in times of crisis. We’ve faced the uncertainties following the tragedy of 9/11, the economic instability of the great recession, many regional natural disasters (hurricanes, flooding, earthquakes, etc.) and, for our Catholic clients,…

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Strong capital campaigns follow storytelling structure

By Steier Tips

Facts don’t always speak for themselves. It may be obvious to your leadership that it’s time to update the HVAC system, address that longstanding debt or that your growing organization requires more space. But for your supporters to convene and push such projects to success, plain facts must be shared within the framework of a story. Fittingly, one of the most important pieces to any successful fundraising campaign is effective storytelling. All stories have a beginning, a middle and an end. In the beginning, a problem arises. The middle of the story is finding the means to solve the problem,…

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What to do between capital campaigns

By Steier Tips

You’ve just finished a successful capital campaign. Time to celebrate! All that hard work has helped you get a long-awaited project off the ground. However, you knew this project was going to take more than one capital campaign to accomplish. You’ve raised enough to get the project started, but you have more pieces that are part of your vision. And your organization needs some time in between campaigns. What do you do in between campaigns to sustain your vision and put yourself in position for a successful follow-up effort? Here are a few ideas: Effectively follow up on the first…

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Capital campaign follow-up leads to even greater success

By Steier Tips

So, your campaign ends with great success. Your effort raised millions, meaning you can address your organization’s pressing needs. You mark the achievement with a donor/volunteer appreciation party, say goodbye to your fundraising counsel, close the door on the capital campaign and wait for the pledge payments to arrive. Scenarios like this play out in the nonprofit community all the time thanks to generous benefactors and dedicated volunteers. But while the sacrifice of donors and the efforts of the campaign team eventually translate into completed projects or funded programs, the fundraising should not end with the conclusion of the active…

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Five capital campaign mistakes and how to avoid them

By Steier Tips

If you’re like many of the nonprofits with which we partner at the Steier Group, it’s been several years – or possibly even several decades – since your last capital campaign. You may be wondering how to start a campaign in the first place. And certainly, you’re hoping to avoid any capital campaign mistakes that could derail your effort. Even the most well-meaning nonprofit CEOs and development directors can make mistakes when it comes to capital campaigns. Many of these leaders conduct only a few campaigns over the course of their careers. Here are five of the most common capital campaign…

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Timing is key during transition from a planning study into a capital campaign

By Steier Tips

Great news! Your organization’s recently-completed planning study found strong support for a capital campaign. Your donors are fired up and ready to support such a transformational fundraising effort. You have interested volunteers and leaders excited to step up. What’s your next step? At the Steier Group, we advise our clients to start the capital campaign immediately – preferably in less than two weeks. We have found that delaying the start of a capital campaign after a successful planning study can hinder the success of the effort. In 194 church capital campaigns over the last 10 years, we found that clients…

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How to start a capital campaign

By Steier Tips

For most nonprofits, a capital campaign is the result of many months, if not years, of strategic planning and preparation. Typically, an organization has established some long-term goals and projects that are too large to be funded through normal operating revenue. Now, what are the next steps? How do I start a capital campaign? Here are the five key steps in transitioning from strategic planning to conducting a campaign: Identify your organization’s needs: Before moving forward with a capital campaign, you should be able to answer “yes” to this question: Is the need – as defined by leadership – real?…

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Eight capital campaign strategies that work

By Steier Tips

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…

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Keep a successful annual appeal separate from capital campaigns

By Steier Tips

Can you have too much of a good thing? When it comes to an annual appeal the answer is “yes.” The Steier Group works often with nonprofits that pushed too hard and too fast on their annual appeals. “Our annual appeal brings in great returns. Let’s make it into a campaign by increasing the goals and the amount we request. We will have even bigger success!” That’s usually how the thinking goes. Unfortunately for organizations that attempt this, the end result often leaves much to be desired. Not only does it harm your annual giving program in the long term,…

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