Learn how Aly Sterling Philanthropy can help you with your capital campaign!

Is your school building a new arts center or sports stadium? A capital campaign will help you raise the funds you need.

Capital campaigns are targeted fundraising efforts designed to accomplish a specific goal (i.e. the aforementioned buildings), and they’re usually implemented by private and independent schools or by colleges and universities.

For comprehensive information on capital campaigns, you can check out this resource.

If you’re ready to get started with our creative fundraising ideas that will help your school build a successful campaign, then check out our curated list:

  1. Look into a fundraising consultant.
  2. Screen your donors.
  3. Build custom donation forms.
  4. Sell custom fundraising products.
  5. Host an event at the end of your campaign.

Now let’s discuss each idea in more detail.

1. Look into a fundraising consultant.

What’s the idea?

One of the more important considerations for your capital campaign will be whether or not you’ll need to hire a consultant. A capital campaign consultant should be hired during the planning phase of your capital campaign.

Consultants can bring valuable expertise to the table that can fill in the gaps in your in-house team and set up your school for long-term success. After all, a capital campaign consultant should partner with your organization and help you create sustainable solutions so that things don’t fall apart once the consultant leaves.

Bringing an expert on board is an investment in your school. Though you will have to front the initial cost, you can build a strong relationship with a consultant that you can leverage in the future.

How does it work?

Your school will need to identify the capital campaign consultant who can provide the most value to your organization. That means seeking out the consultant or consulting firm that can strengthen key aspects of your operations and motivate your supporters internally.

In addition to finding a consultant who will be a good fit for your school, take these important factors into consideration:

  • How much will the consultant cost?
  • What is their availability during the course of your capital campaign?
  • Will the consultant work directly with your fundraising staff, or will they be working remotely?
  • What kind of references can they provide based on past clients?
  • Do they have experience with prospect research?

If you’d like to take a formal approach to the hiring process, request a proposal from your top choices. Evaluate each consultant’s understanding of your school’s need to determine the best fit for your school.

Where can I learn more?

Aly Sterling Philanthropy is a full-service consulting firm with services for capital campaigns. Learn more about Aly Sterling’s insight into capital campaign best practices with this resource.

2. Screen your donors.

What’s the idea?

One of the most effective capital campaign fundraising ideas is to send targeted appeals to the donors who are most likely to benefit your school. While all of your supporters are incredibly valuable, major donors can create a lasting impact with their high-level gifts.

In an ideal world, you could reach out to each and every donor. As is the current case, however, your school will be well-served if you can direct your limited resources toward the donors who are most likely to create the most impact.

That’s why screening services can be such a huge benefit to your school.

Screening services can help your school identify the donors and potential donors who harbor the most giving potential.

Wealth screenings and prospect research will be incredibly important to the success of your capital campaign because you’ll need high-level donors to give to the quiet phase of your campaign. With screenings, you can identify these donors so that you can make a targeted ask to get your campaign off the ground.

How does it work?

In a wealth screening, your donors will be analyzed for various traits and wealth indicators, such as:

  • Real estate ownership
  • SEC transactions
  • Business affiliations
  • Past giving history
  • Political donations

With all of this information, your school can gain a more comprehensive picture of your donors and can better understand how much each prospect can reasonably give to your school.

To actually perform a wealth screening, you can either:

  • Hire a fundraising consultant who offers wealth screening services.
  • Hire the services of a screening company, which can compare data across multiple public databases and rank your donors based on their giving potential.
  • Equip your in-house research team with quiet phase goals so that they know how much time they should spend researching each prospect.
  • Designate a staff member or team to DIY (this option is feasible for very small or newer schools who may not have a robust development staff).

Depending on your budget and the size of your donor pool, your school can choose the method that’s right for you.

Where can I learn more?

For more comprehensive information on screening services for private and independent schools, you can check out this DonorSearch guide.

3. Build custom donation forms.

What’s the idea?

Custom online donation forms are key to collecting contributions for your school’s capital campaign. These forms will be especially important during the public phase of your campaign, when everyone has the ability to donate.

After all, your donors are busy! Online donation forms are incredibly convenient because donors can give anytime, anywhere. This is especially true if your donation pages are optimized for mobile devices (which means that donors can easily access and use the pages on a phone).

Additionally, donation pages are useful for collecting data on your supporters. For instance, the data that you collect from your donation page can give you insights into a donor’s:

  • Giving habits.
  • Preferred donation methods.
  • Participation in events and other engagement opportunities.

Knowing the information listed above can help you determine strategies to improve your online donation forms.

However, the data that you collect needs to go somewhere, and the most common location is your nonprofit’s CRM. You can always input the data in manually, but who has time for that! Another option is to integrate your donation form with your CRM, which we’ll talk about in the next section.

Just as important is the trust that your school can build with your donors through effective, branded pages. Donors are wary of typing their personal credit card information into donation forms that are hosted by third-party sites or that aren’t branded to your school.

By creating custom donation forms that reflect your school and your capital campaign, you can reassure donors that their gifts are, in fact, going directly to your school’s most pressing project.

How does it work?

There are several platforms that you can use to build online donation forms, such as:

  • Payment processing software. To accept online donations, your school must use a payment processor. Payment processors handle the transaction of a donor’s funds into your school’s bank account. Some payment processors also provide donation form building tools.
  • Donation form software. There are many platforms designed specifically for nonprofits and schools. With these user-friendly tools, you can build custom donation forms without advanced knowledge of HTML and CSS.
  • CRM software. Many CRMs have online donation form tools built in. With CRM software, the donor data you collect from online donation forms will automatically be loaded into your CRM!

Of course, you can always DIY a donation form if you have a strong IT infrastructure at your school.

Where can I learn more?

To learn more about how online donation forms can benefit a school fundraiser, check out this article!

4. Sell custom fundraising products.

What’s the idea?

One of the most effective ways to engage supporters during the public phase of a capital campaign is to sell fundraising products. Products are a great incentive for donors because they receive something in return for their gifts.

Plus, products are perfect for spreading school spirit to your students and your donors. From t-shirts to baseball hats, supporters can use custom clothing and other useful fundraising products in their daily lives.

Supporters will love to sport paraphernalia of their beloved alma maters! School pride is not only great for your student body, but it can also help you retain alumni and other supporters as donors. Think about it: students who actively support their school are more likely to return as donors later.

You can foster school spirit throughout your entire school by selling fundraising products that everyone will be eager to purchase.

How does it work?

Your school can create demand for fundraising products by branding them to your school.

Branding products includes incorporating your school’s:

  • Name.
  • Colors.
  • Mascot.

All of these elements are important for building your school’s brand. With branded products, your supporters are more likely to feel connected to your school.

Where can I learn more?

Check out Booster’s guide to school fundraising ideas for more information on the types of products you can create.

5. Host an event at the end of your campaign.

What’s the idea?

An event is a great way to thank all of your donors and celebrate the accomplishments achieved during your capital campaign.

Of course, you can also host a fundraising event to raise the remaining funds that you need to meet your goal. Fundraising events are perfect for spreading excitement among your supporters, which can encourage them to donate to your campaign in a last-minute rush.

Even more so, a fundraising event is a chance to meet with your donors face-to-face so that you can learn about their motivations for supporting your school.

Therefore, though fundraising events are perfect for the success of your capital campaign, they’re also important for the overall success of your school’s fundraising initiatives. Getting to know your donors can make or break your institution.

How does it work?

There are many ways to raise money at a school fundraising event, but here are some of the most effective:

Any of these ideas can reap major rewards for your campaign.

It’s important, however, to recognize that fundraising events shouldn’t be used as a substitute for stewardship events.

Once you’ve reached your campaign goal, and if you’ve decided to host an event to celebrate, you shouldn’t ask your attendees for more donations. Doing so can deter them from giving to your school again (after all, how would you feel to be prodded for funds after you’ve already given a significant contribution?).

Where can I learn more?

Hosting an event at the end of your capital campaign will take some planning. Check out this capital campaign planning article for more information!


Capital campaigns are vital to the growth of your school, which is why it’s important that you take the time to develop the most effective fundraising strategies. These 5 ideas can help you build a capital campaign that will reach your fundraising goal and ultimately benefit your students.

Learn more ways to raise money during your school’s capital campaign with these additional resources:

  • Planning a Capital Campaign. Great fundraising starts with a solid foundation. Get all the information your school needs to plan a capital campaign; that way, you can ensure your fundraiser is a success.
  • Online Donation Tips. Accepting donations online is a vital way to raise money for any capital campaign. Learn 5 tips on how to make online giving a breeze for you and your supporters.
  • Nonprofit Feasibility Studies. If your school hasn’t already, you should conduct a feasibility study. By interviewing supporters, you can gain valuable knowledge that will help you determine if your capital campaign has the potential to succeed.
  • @Pay’s School Fundraising Ideas. Looking for more ways to raise money for your school? Check out @Pay’s list of 30 school fundraising ideas. Use these ideas for your capital campaign or other fundraising initiatives.

Learn more about how Aly Sterling can support you school's capital campaign.

Aly Sterling Philanthropy

Aly Sterling Philanthropy

Over the years we’ve helped nonprofits raise millions of dollars, engage their leaders, hire top-notch talent and grow their missions. Are you ready to move your mission forward? Contact us to get started.
Aly Sterling Philanthropy
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