Are you Ready to Start a Capital Campaign?

Are you Ready to Start a Capital Campaign?

Thinking about a capital campaign? That’s excellent news, since most people give because it makes them feel good about themselves. How kind of you!

The best capital campaigns begin with the end in mind–not how to get started but, rather, how you want it to conclude. (Don’t just say, “Soon!”) A capital campaign can do far more for your organization than just raise money. That is, IF, you plan effectively, prepare well and stay focused on the most important outcomes:


Of course, you want to raise the funds designated for the campaign projects. But a well-designed capital campaign will inspire your donors to do well for your organization on all fundraising fronts. Special projects, the annual fund, planned giving, endowment—all these should benefit from your thoughtful and well-orchestrated campaign. For some of your donors, this may be the first time they seriously ponder questions such as:

“How have I been blessed in life?” 

“How can I express a measure of gratitude?”

“What does this organization mean to me, my family and my community?”

“What is a thoughtful and proportionate gift within the context of my own ability to give?”

 “How can I respond in faith to this invitation?”


Donors, prospects, members, clients, staff, leaderships—your relationships with all these stakeholders should be enhanced at the successful culmination of your campaign. Sometimes organizations will have intangible goals related to relationship building as part of their overall campaign strategy.


We are all too familiar with the concept of the vicious cycle where one unfortunate event leads to another. In the world of volunteerism, we witness the beneficent cycle: those who volunteer are more inclined to give; those who give are more inclined to volunteer. Your capital campaign offers a host of volunteer roles so that everyone who participates can feel they have contributed to its success and the future of your organization.


People support what they know, understand and believe. Your capital campaign presents unique opportunities to build credibility, confidence and curiosity. Your case for support will compellingly describe your vision of the future. It will not only articulate where your organization is going but also how you will get there and how the donors can transform this from a dream to a stunning reality.

And, speaking of donors… A capital campaign can beautifully expand your base of support and upgrade your existing donors to higher levels of investment and involvement. However, before you even start talking about the possibility of a campaign, make sure that your donor acknowledgement/appreciation protocols are robust, engaging and well executed. Everything you do between now and the launch of your capital campaign influences your fundraising potential.

What’s next? The typical capital campaign prelude includes a close look at: strategic planning, research and analysis, internal operations, relationship building, preliminary prospect review and a feasibility study.

If your campaign is not an outgrowth of a strategic plan, fear not, but do start to focus on developing your case for support. In other words, this can be your organization’s value proposition coupled with your funding priorities. Be as specific as possible about the campaign projects and define each element not merely in terms of numbers, costs and features but, most importantly, the benefit that will be derived by the intended audience. Incorporate the unique charism, spirit and philosophy of your organization and be prepared to answer…


“Why should I give?”

“Why your organization?”

“Why at this moment?”

We could go on and on but, sadly, there is not enough room here. Consider joining us in the fall for our capital campaign webinar Thursday, Sept. 26. Questions? Contact the Mission Advancement staff at 630.378.2454,; visit our website at , or read about us in the latest OutReach

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