Capital campaigns. You love ‘em and you hate ‘em. This is because few other fundraising endeavors are capable of eliciting excitement and a little fear at the same time.
For fundraising professionals, running a successful capital campaign is like competing in the Ironman Triathlon. It’s your daily routine on steroids. It requires that you do more of everything you already do, and do it better. It requires that you cross train, solve blow-outs on the fly and keep going even when you’ve forgotten why you entered in the first place.
It’s the ultimate challenge and, done well, provides you and your organization with great opportunities for growth.
So, what does it take to run a successful capital campaign? At Aly Sterling Philanthropy, we’ve run just a few of these races and have noticed that successful campaigns share some key factors.
Strong Leadership – Every campaign that meets or exceeds its goal is led by well-liked, influential people who know they’ve joined to work. The absolute key to “winning” the campaign is having charismatic, experienced cabinet chairs who set a positive example for the campaign by giving and soliciting gifts – and motivating cabinet members to do the same. It also helps when at least a majority of board members serve on the cabinet or a related task force, and your staff is willing to jump in to provide hard-hat tours or write a check for their own contribution. Leadership. It’s what sets all campaigns apart.
Mission – Every organization that meets or exceeds its campaign goal has a clear, impactful mission and is good at communicating its impact in a meaningful way. After all, if you can’t answer the question “Why are we here?”, then why are you here?
Fundraising History – Most organizations that meet or exceed their campaign goals have a history of consistent fundraising. They can articulate – in numbers and photos – a string of well-attended events, an expanding donor’s circle, a growing annual fund and a long list of potential in-kind donors. They also regularly and tastefully share their need with supporters to keep them engaged with the mission.
Strong Partnerships – Every organization that meets or exceeds it campaign goal has partners (or potential partners) with capacity. These are the big brothers and big sisters of the nonprofit world who recognize the value of the services provided by their “littles” and are committed to providing the resources and expertise needed by those operating on a shoestring. In the sport of fundraising, as in the game of life, it’s good to choose allies with whom you share values and interests. And it doesn’t hurt if they’re generous with their gifts.
I would love to hear what you think. Please feel free to email me or connect with us on LinkedIn!
Jenny Goldberg, CFRE
Aly Sterling Philanthropy